By Mark C. Hackett
Concepts of poetic vision are the point of origin for these works of gestural interpretation. Their departure point, having no contemporary reference, owes more to musical rhythms and dance. It's not surprising given the artist's early years with Anna Halprin's San Francisco Dancers Workshop. There is a unique math and meticulously ordered chaos in these works, which play out their interaction, as does a go match. Each piece, a puzzle of steps, which as a whole body of work, collectively are a volume of poetry; discoursing humanity's affair with aesthetics and the being of thought and action, captured on canvas.
Samaj began his academic training in fine arts in San Francisco where he simultaneously pursued music, dance and painting at The S.F. Conservatory of Music, Anna Halprin's Dance Workshop and the School of Art at Antioch University West respectively. So it is not surprising that his paintings are imbued with musical rhythms of line and color; that they are each a choreography of elements, which create distinct and whole compositions. As if he were working with stage and dancers rather than canvas and pigment.
As for the artist's clarity and determination displayed in the body of work as a whole, and his ability to create a fluid lexicon in the language of American painting, the late Dr. Francis Coelho, peer at Antioch University West, with whom Samaj studied and worked with during much of the 70's, said in a 1990 interview with art critic John Boylan that he saw Samaj carrying on the tradition of the northwest abstract artists.
In a 1994 letter of introduction to Gallerist Walter Bieri, of the Basel Zangbieri Gallery, art critic Deloris Tarzan Ament wrote of Samaj that he was, "a serious contribution to Northwest Art." A body of work spanning 4 decades attests to this, while his most recent series affirms unequivocally his standing as an American painter.
This present series displays a matrix of dichotomies ranging from abstract theory to tangible realities of material, color, texture, line quality, brush stroke; their physical and esoteric aspects juxtapose in delicate counterpoint in such a way as to be unique to this artist. The point of departure being the abstract expressionist of the North West School, chiefly Tobey and Callahan; Samaj has developed from his influences a visual voice and iconography distinctly his own- Samaj has arrived in his own space. As Coelho said of Samaj, "In his knowledge there is a science. It's the definition of aesthetics: the science of beauty."