Frieze Zona Maco

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Celebration of life
(Luca Magnanelli, no.70 Reflex white - above and beyond)

In observing the work of Ana Tzarev, whether it is a painting or a sculpture, there are two evident characteristics which can be found in all of her work: incredibly vivid – but never excessive – colour, and a general sense of positivity. Born in Trogir in Croatia in 1937, she began her career as a painter and sculptor relatively late in life, when she was about fifty. Her many years spent in the textile industry, in the creation of textiles and silk prints, gave her the opportunity to exploit her innate skills, also recognised by the obtaining of a diploma in fashion design. From the very beginning, flowers have been at the centre of her pictorial art, a passion which perhaps comes from way back, from her childhood memories, from her grandmother’s garden where she tended the plants. Her way of painting them however recalls her experiences with textile products, as her brushstrokes are undeniably interconnected in geometrical schemes which recall the weaves of fabric, so much so that her paintings are exceptionally three-dimensional. Her flowers are not perfect representations of reality, far from it. They are stylised in form and colour. Yet they appear, if possible, more realistic than the originals, extremely real and alive. It is almost as if the artist is able to capture the essence of that which she sees to then transfer it to canvas, to transmit to us all the joyful vitality that she sees in creation. There is also room for people and animals in her pictures, but they are all shown with the same characteristics, the same joyful chromaticity and the same materiality. Ana Tzarev undoubtedly loves to paint life in all its forms. Her travels have had a strong impact on her art, and her moving to New Zealand allowed her to experience the Orient while keeping a certain distance. From there, far from both the tradition of Europe and the fascination of China, but also from her gallery in New York, she enjoys a privileged position which allows her to immerse herself in her work.

Curiously, but not excessively, her pictorial work has intrinsic essential elements from the symbolism of the Orient, which are leading her to be discovered by Chinese spectators. Her many fans admire in the Croatian artist’s work a great European tradition blended with a sensibility which is typically oriental. A peculiarity which has not failed to intrigue and fascinate, for example, Pen Feng, a professor from the Peking University School of Art who is also the director of the Department of Art Theory of the same Academy. An executive member of the International Association of Aesthetics, critic, curator and playwright, he was the curator of the Chinese Pavilion for the 54th International Art Exhibition – the Venice Biennial, and he claims to be intimately struck by Tzarev’s work. For the Chinese the representation of flowers and birds has a powerful historical and traditional value: by observing and studying them, the ancient farming civilizations gained important information, and they also attributed indispensible – for mankind – moral qualities to these creations. To observe them in paintings was furthermore a way to maintain contact with the energy of the universe, to feel an integral part of the “whole”. In fact the love that ties Ana Tzarev to flowers has very similar origins. Perhaps it is for this reason that her art is able to cross cultural and academic borders. In her flowers there is all the poetry of the Orient as well as all the tradition of Europe, from Monet to Van Gogh, of whom Ana is a great admirer. From 9 May to 22 November 2015 it will be possible to view her personal exhibition in Venice, eloquently entitled Celebration of Life. The exhibition at the Museo Diocesano Sant’ Apollonia shows over twenty-five works created over the last decade, among them the outstanding sculpture Peace, a monumental aquamarine-coloured lily made in 2013, which, with its three and a half metres, invites viewers into the Croatian artist’s garden.