Three Oaks / Gabriele Förster


Shai Saul’s photographic work is not so easy to classify. His pictures belong neither to those of the “seekers”, a term used by Peter Hamilton, meaning photographers like himself, Cartier-Bresson and others, who record natural events, nor to those of the “makers”, like Mapplethorpe and Booth, who create artificial scenarios for their images.


At first glance, the large color prints suggest almost abstract forms, but on closer examination reveal themselves as depictions of man’s intervention in real landscapes. While the mysterious beauty of the structures, their formal harmony and delicate coloring are fascinating, at the same time the obvious and violent changes which men impose on nature appear shocking. Mysterious, almost sublime buildings turn out to be harbingers of the destruction of the landscape.


Shai Saul’s approach to his art is philosophical, offering the viewer an abundance of further thoughts and feelings. The work’s aesthetic is as fascinating as the message underlying it. Almost imperceptibly, the viewer enters dangerous territory, over whose beauty destruction has cast its shadow.


W.G. Sebald, referring to 17th century writer Thomas Browne, writes “Time itself grows old. Pyramids, arches and obelisks are melting pillars of snow. Not even those who have found a place amidst the heavenly constellations have perpetuated their names: Nimrod is lost in Orion, and Osiris in the Dog star. Indeed, great dynasties last not three oaks.“


Such thoughts come to mind in light of Shai Saul’s work.


Berlin, 2009



To acquire the Three Oaks exhibition catalog, go to