Desaix Anderson’s art is a personal philosophical exploration of the meaning of life. A career diplomat, focused on Asia, writer, and painter, the native Mississippian lives in New York, Washington, and Paris. Desaix shares with Asians a profound attachment to nature, the seasons, and cycles of decay and rebirth – of societies and individuals.
Desaix’s preference for minimalist composition reflects many years of living in Japan, but earthy peasant scenes and colors have appeared in his painting since his third residency in Vietnam from 1995 to 1997. Desaix loves rich color, evoking his innate optimism, passion for life, and vivid recollections of ancient and contemporary Asia as well as frequent travel in Mexico, North and South Korea, living in China, Vietnam, and Thailand. Mountains, rivers, the sun, the moon, and the sea are recurrent themes in his paintings. Ancient structures emerge as another major theme, reflecting his fascination with the lives and livelihood the peoples of Asia in a series of paintings on the ancient cities of Vietnam. Recent paintings in Italy and New York echo these themes in contemporary settings.
Textures and vibrant colors integrated into his work draw on the viewer’s emotional sense and create powerful works that incorporate a rare spiritual depth. Sensitively attuned to the harmony and balance of life, Desaix paints with an energetic palette of color. In his work, color, form, and expression co-exist in an inseparable relationship. An abstract visionary, Desaix works with acrylics on canvas, embedding gold leaf and handmade Asian papers into collages, mingling hints of nature or philosophical ideas in golds, reds, and mustards and creating evocative and sensuous mosaics of pleasure, innuendo, and adventure.
Desaix, born in Mississippi on February 12, 1936, studied history, literature, and philosophy at Princeton University (BA 1958) and European literature at the University of California in Berkeley. As the first envoy in Vietnam after diplomatic relations were established in 1995, Desaix’ art was on continuous exhibition to thousands of visitors in the American Embassy residence in Hanoi. Desaix has held numerous exhibitions in New York in galleries in Soho, Chelsea, and Tribeca, in Paris, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, Washington, DC, at the Southside Gallery in Oxford, Mississippi, and Tokyo.