Rags to Riches

Peter Sacks wasn’t always an artist. A native of Port Elizabeth, South Africa he began his professional studies in medicine at the University of Cape Town but then migrated over to a career in art after discovering where his true passion lay.

Over many decades he has honed his craft and Sperone Westwater is now presenting him in his first solo exhibition at the gallery in a show entitled “Republic.”

The work is ambitious, large and immediately draws you in. Layer upon layer of fabric bits, antique lace, text, cardboard, wood and paint pull you through the depths of each individual piece. Some canvases feature entire garments overlayed by such seemingly castaway ephemera. These are not just post-modern collage creations. They are mesmeric studies on a multitude of topics—revolution, remembrances, refuse and rejuvenation.







Mr. Sacks also painstakingly types poetry passages and excerpts from novels onto pieces of fabric using a manual typewriter. So some of the pieces were years in the making.

The show includes a selection of works perfectly depicting the skylines of U.S. cities with carefully chosen twisted and torn fabric—the imagery is immediately recognizable and fun to view as it has a hint of storybook illustration. You can feel the wind blowing through the scenes as fabric billows and unfurls in beautiful lines above the skyscraper structures composed of shards of fabric in wild prints.






It’s exciting to find the assorted elements of each piece and consider their individual and collective meanings through the course of discovery. They are meant to be looked at for great lengths of time, both from a distance and close up, as you ponder what you’re seeing. The movement in his work pulsates with life.

Close up view of the neckline on a cotton dress embedded in the canvas.
Doesn't this one look like a bird of prey?





And for those that are loyal followers of his art, you might even be surprised by some of the fabrics or garments you see as he has long received textiles from fans, each with a request to please find a use for something that seems to have no place in the world any longer.

Peter Sacks is only too happy to oblige.

See “Republic” before it closes on March 13.