I see the work of another artist and feel compelled to tell the world
about it. And while Ana Zanic of Geneva is doing quite well for herself
with paintings now featured in shows that include galleries in Chicago,
New York, Denver and Baton Rouge, that does not mean one cannot add to
I first met Ana Zanic back in 2013 when she was working as a
Resident Artist at Water Street Studios in Batavia. Our family purchased
one of her paintings and it hangs in my home to this day. Her recent
show Fluidity being show at the Fermi National Accelerator gallery is an
expansion on all that she is doing with her watercolors. The work is on
display in the second-floor gallery of the Fermi National Accelerator
Laboratory through September 16.
Her largest works in the show are stunning in size. Encountering
watercolor paintings that stand taller than a human being is uncommon in
this world. But that is the point. Her six-foot tall watercolors force
one to stand back for a wider look yet draw the viewer close to see what
else is going on within these organic forms.
Zanic must either possess a very broad brush or is able to sweep the
flow of a watercolor glaze using other means. Her large paintings
consist of washes fully one foot across that are drawn in washes similar
in form to a Mobius strip. Infinity thus exists on paper. She uses this
format to create space and then enhance it with wet-in-wet methods that
suggest landscape or plant forms, woods or valleys.
these same shapes could well be the processes that invented and
expanded the universe, and from within these massive forms come Zanic’s
textural commentaries. Tiny drawn figures seem to vacillate between
material forms and energy. Sometimes they appear to be forests emerging
from the earth. At other times, they seem to convey a population of
thoughts or recollections. This is what makes her work so pleasing,
accessible and yet mysterious at the same time. To complete this journey
from thought to form, she has also created a series of pottery pieces
that bear the same conversational inscriptions.
Work like this enables viewers to get lost in very personal worlds of
visual appeal and contemplation of the process that led to its
creation. The title of the show Fluidity
could be taken as
a literal comment about a watercolor show. Yet there’s more to it than
that, because every watercolorist knows that creating paintings is a
process of both anticipation and happy mistakes. Every inch of surface
becomes its own palette when watercolor flows across the surface. This
becomes a conversation and some points even an intellectual argument in
which delicacy and force of will are in constant engagement. The drips,
runs and expansions all play a role in this universe created by a
Her special command of materials is best demonstrated in her ability
to create tension and excitement through use of edges, which Zanic
employs in work to define positive and negative shapes. In between she
celebrates gauzy wonderment in the wet and marvelous world of water,
pigment and paper.
Her works in the Origin series bear suggestions of geology or
topography. Yet they could just as easily be considered in the context
of space and time. One wonders if the physicists at Fermi have been
wandering through this show considering the subatomic worlds they
explore, which could very well be similar to the world of watercolor and
the paintings of Ana Zanic.
is high time that all of us come to grips with the fact that the world
is not a “paint by number” place. Physics and evolution demand that
knowledge. We also now know there is space between all matter, and dark
matter beyond that. We even have the ability to shoot neutrinos through
the earth. As it turns out, the pigment of our vision exists as much by
force of imagination as it does in reality.
And Ana Zanic paints that space between. That is how (and why) the
watercolors of Ana Zanic call us to consideration of all that we see. It
may well be more realistic to depict the world in abstract terms than
it is to attempt a direct copy of it. In this regard, the setting for
the show Fluidity at Fermilab is perfect. It stands to expand your
concept of the world and what you see around you.
The Fermilab Art Gallery is on the second floor of Wilson Hall. It is
free and open to the public Monday to Friday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Sign in a
the Wilson Hall atrium reception desk. The show will be displayed
through September 16.
*Images courtesy of Christopher Cudworth