Solo Exhibition “Alchemy of Images and Color”

The Museum of Russian Art in Ramat-Gan is named after Maria and Michael Zetlin, Ramat- Gan, Israel, 2010

In her paintings, Anna Zarnitzky refers to images of real, mythological and Biblical fauna – peacock, crawfish, cock, fish, a winged bull, which attracted many artists throughout ages. During centuries these animals became universal archetypes which were allotted with intricate meanings used in astrologic, alchemic, religious symbolism and became an integral part of canon images.

Thus, the peacock embodied beauty and immortality, in early Christianity, this image was related to the symbol of the sun; the cock meant dawn, awakening, and vigilance; fish in Christianity symbolized Christ and served a zodiac sign. Many Biblical stories connected with fish are quite symbolic. For instance, the story of Jonah, swallowed by “a big fish” and thrown out safe and sound three days later, symbolizes resurrection. The bull embodied vital force and male power in different cultures. The iconography of a fantastic winged bull with a human face, as depicted on the canvas of Zarnitzky, descends from sculptures of Šedu in the palace of the Assyrian king Sargon the Second in Dur-Sharrukin. The winged bull is mentioned in visions of Ezekiel and of John the Apostle in the Apocalypse, and it became the symbol of Luke the Evangelist. It also arouses allusions related to the image of the death-dealing bull of Picasso’s surrealistic painting “Guernica”. 

The visual-plastic interpretation of animals in art and the associations connected with their semantics have undergone changes in the course of centuries. In the course of time, the symbolic sense gradually fell back to the background, and beauty of form, color, line, rhythm became of primary importance for artists. V. Kandinsky wrote in his book “About the Spiritual in Art”: “In our times we are still tightly connected with the external nature, and we are obliged to derive from it our forms. The actual question of the present is how should we act, which means, to what extent are we free to change these forms, and what are the colors we can use to join them?”

Zarnitzky in her canvases transforms the motifs of fauna into images of the fantastic world by expressive plastic means. In some of these canvases she underlines the visible plastic authenticity of the image, in some of them it is the linear graphic touch of the form marked out, and in some others, it is the dynamic, vibrating space accentuated. Her works as if the eradiate energy of pure color action. The paintings convey an intensive piercingly gaudy color, and the effect is achieved by comparison of pairs of additional contrasting pure colors – red and green, orange and violet, yellow and blue, as well as by acute rhythm, by dab dynamics.

Anna herself asserts that her pictorial language comes from the fusion of intuitive sensation of color and her knowledge of color studies. Her sensation of color is close to the principles of op-art (optic art) with its sophisticated color combinations resulting in an unexpected visual effect. Victor Vasarely, the founder of op-art, was inspired in his turn by divisionism of post-modernists. It is this system of Vasarely’s optic principles of color allocation on the canvas which exerted a considerable influence on the young artist at the very beginning of her creative work, when she was a student in Moscow, and which inspired her to endeavor her own experiments in the field of color. Years later the ideas of Varsity were reinterpreted by A. Zarnitzky and became organically interconnected with her own ideas: “In nature, everything is moving, transforming. I want to convey this thought, ancient like nature itself, in line and in color”.