Denver-based artist Jonathan Saiz believes vehemently in the democratization of art. For the last few years, he’s been on a mission to activate the relationship between buyer and artist with unusual and clever tactics. One of his first attempts at this style was a solo show at Leon Gallery where over 900 small, square oil paintings were sold separately for $20 each. The popularity of that (all pieces were sold) led into another concept the following year — an “art vending machine” in 2017 at Understudy near the Convention Center, where once again, small oil paintings were sold for $20 each.
This year, Saiz is stepping up the scale and impact of his tiny oil paintings that are aimed at leveling the playing field for all art lovers (rather than someone needing to cough up thousands of dollars for one of Saiz’s original paintings). Instead of an art vending machine or a gallery show, Saiz will display 10,000 artworks at the Denver Art Museum starting May 12, 2019. After the exhibition is over in November, Saiz will give away all 10,000 pieces.
Called #WhatisUtopia, the exhibition will feature a single column in the museum with thousands of those tiny, square oil paintings along with drawings and sculptures. Through an Instagram account (@utopia_is_free), Saiz is planning on documenting responses and inciting conversation around the idea of a modern utopia, wondering “what is a perfect society in today’s standards?” Aside from Saiz’s efforts to radically alter how art is traded, bought, collected and valued, this exhibition feels like another way for Saiz to spread happiness.
Although that is all the information available about #WhatisUtopia at the moment, more announcements and details will come out in the following months.
All photos in gallery courtesy of @utopia_is_free on Instagram