Thursday, October 25, 2007

Artist Feature 1: Michal Zaborowski

Welcome to the Artist Feature section of the Nevin Kelly Gallery blog. Join me every week as I muse on one of our gallery's artists (either Polish or local/emerging), introducing their work(s) to this blog's dedicated readers here in Washington DC and beyond. Should you have any feedback, please leave a comment under the specific entry and I will get definitely get back to you. Please note that from now until November 11th, the closing date of the H20 exhibition, I will be blogging solely about Zaborowski's various paintings.

Glass of Water, Oil on Canvas, 55'' x 32'', 2007

There is a lot that can be said about the presence of water in Zaborowski's romantic paintings that were selected for this exhibition. Sometimes it's subtle, other times overwhelming. In Glass of Water, Zaborowski's rendering of the human figure dominates the canvas so much that the presence of water, found in the cocktail glass and tightly grasped by the woman's right hand, is almost camouflaged into the soft, gray background. Instead, the focus is found on the woman's face, which seems to be the only element that is properly proportioned compared to the rest of the body. Her eyes stare out into space and meet yours if you stand at an angle, to the right of the painting.

Standing in the presence of this woman makes you wonder who she is, where she comes from and what she is currently engaged in at this very moment. Pictured from a sideways profile, with her legs propped up on a wooden stool, sitting in what appears to be a traditional armchair, one can surmise one of many things. Perhaps she just returned from an evening out on the town (cocktail party, dancing under the moonlight, romantic dinner?), evident by the elegant blue and white dress hanging off her body and the black stiletto pumps dangling off her feet. There is a garment of some sort draped on the back of the chaise, perhaps a quilted, fancy overcoat that provided warmth to her exhausted, far from perfect body on the way home. Her left arm is allowing her to stretch a bit while glancing to the other side of the room. She seems to be awaiting the arrival of someone or something - but who? The darker, square-like shade of muddy gray oil paint lends no blatant clue to this mystery: for all we know, she could be expecting her lover or simply the her maid to freshen her drink. Most importantly, she hides nothing.

Like Titan's Venus of Urbino, I believe Glass of Water was painted to exude the purposeful, sensual beauty of the female figure (but not in a provocative way). There is a blatant sense of honesty that is rendered in his painting and a simple narrative that is to be told. No matter where our curious imaginations may take us, it might be worth considering this woman as the "reclining nude" of the 21st century - who does not have perfect bodily proportions yet expects viewers to accept her as she is. She has no shame, and shows her fair yet strong legs off proudly. And as for the glass of water she is clutching in her right hand? It could serve as her weapon of defense for anyone who dares to mess with her honest, beautiful self.

No comments: