Artist Pages | Jim Sajovic: ‘Energy Fields, Currents and Microscapes’

“Currents 11/8/19,” pigmented inks and acrylic on canvas, 76 x 76″

“How does the eye move? How does the mind see focal resolution, transparency, opacity, or space? How does something appear to emerge and then submerge again? How is it that something static, like shapes
of color on canvas, seem energized or flowing, or jumping or vibrating?”
Jim Sajovic (Work Statement excerpt)

Jim Sajovic explores these long-standing questions in “Energy Fields, Currents and Microscapes,” a multivalent new series of digital compositions marking a pivotal creative milestone that exemplifies his 20-year evolution as a painter, from figuration to abstraction.

Born in Chicago, Sajovic earned his BFA at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, and his MFA in painting from the University of Florida. As an interdisciplinary thinker, he accepted a position at the Kansas City Art Institute and was excited by the prospect of teaching in the new Foundation Program. “It was an opportunity to experiment and collaborate in innovative curriculum,” he said in a recent conversation.

Sajovic began “Energy Fields, Currents and Microscapes” in 2016, shortly after retiring from his 44-year tenure as professor in the foundation department at KCAI. Comprising nearly 30 works, this series demonstrates a conflation of interests including micro imagery, neurobiology, systems theory, beauty, and the relationship between vision and the mind. He shared the work in a sequence of five Facebook posts, from April 9 to May 7, 2023. A previous series, “Provisional Chaos” (2015-1017), serves as an informative precursor for this new work.

Sajovic described being “seduced into the digital process” in the early 1990s, when he began making computerized studies for his paintings. Over the next decade, he incorporated digital images with paint, and around 2010, completely embraced the digital process and stopped using paint entirely. To compose his digital paintings, Sajovic sources from his vast catalogue of digital imagery, including found images and his own photography.

Working in Photoshop, Sajovic layers, manipulates, stretches and breaks apart images to formulate rhythmic collages without a pre-determined outcome. The compositions are optically visceral and sometimes jarring. Some elicit an almost intolerable visual intensity, while others exist in a quieter, lyrical space.

Horizontal bands of ellipses, lattices and t-cross patterns screen and hover above swaths of color, variously invoking cool, atmospheric space (“Microscape, 2/15/21”); searing, dense heat (“Microscape, 9/12/18”); swirling, oily pools (“Microscape, 2/15/23”); woven fibrous grounds (“Energy Field, 8/1/21”); or Tetris-like pulsating blocks (“Energy Field, 7/28/20”). Printed on canvas and glazed with acrylic varnish, the finished works coyly belie their digital nature, appearing as if painted by hand.

Indeed, Sajovic considers the work as painting. “I like to think of my works as paintings because I’ve spent a large part of my career painting, and I ‘think’ like a painter,” he said. “We’re living in a time in which many tools, like microphotography, MRI, radio astronomy and the like, are seductive because they reveal what is unseen; magical worlds that not only inform but spur the imagination. These mediating tools inevitably find their way into the artist’s studio.”

Above all, a sense of generosity and openness pervades the work, inviting us to not just look, but see.

All images courtesy of the artist

“Energy Field 3/21/23,” pigmented inks and acrylic on canvas, 58 x 64″
“Energy Field, 11/17/22,” pigmented inks and acrylic on canvas, 72 x 50″
“Microscape 2/15/21,” pigmented inks and acrylic on canvas, 38 x 42″
“Energy Field 10/26/21,” pigmented inks and acrylic on canvas, 58 x 64″
“Microscape 2/18/23,” pigmented inks and acrylic on canvas, 56 x 64″
Heather Lustfeldt

Heather Lustfeldt is a writer, educator and arts professional with a passion for public program development and community engagement for audiences of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. Heather lives in Kansas City with her two sons.

Leave a Reply