Thursday, June 24, 2021

 One Breath

 

Recently I have been approached by Mark Walton of the Covert Collective about doing a write up on my artistic practice. I am truly humbled by his inspired response to my work.

Here is a copy of the text, and for Mark's post in its entirety please visit The Covert Collective's page.



  One Breath

  by Mark Walton

 The first time you see Ana Žanić’s watercolor and pencil artwork is like taking a sharp blow to the limbic system. Every one of your senses screams “I know this” but cannot figure out what “this” is or why it knows it. They take on the form of something both organic and subliminal, communicating to us of the past (back to pre-history) and our deeply troubled emotional state we find ourselves in through the pandemic.

Her colour palettes are very natural and gently reassuring… mother earth will take us back into her bosom and help us heal. The meticulous marks speak of long journeys past, and reach out to our future selves to remind us that we have struggled before and have overcome those obstacles… we can do it again.

I reached out to Ana and asked her a few questions.

Your work is a very strong combination of the abstract and the meticulous, and you work in many different sizes (the notebooks to huge wall pieces). Can you speak to how long it takes you to complete these?

Smaller formats like a 9″x12″ piece can take as little as a day or two if I am looking for a simple statement, where the piece feels as if it happened in one breath. In other cases it can take me much longer, as I am coming back several times to the same piece with more details. Sometimes the work is not finished even after a few months. The really large paintings (like 99″x55″) can take me a few months or a year (or more) to get to the place where I feel the piece is resolved and finished.

My small sketchbooks, the ones I started during this pandemic are an ongoing process – I have been working on them for a full year now. So far I have eight of those pandemic sketchbooks, and none of them is completely finished.


When you start a work, do you have a general idea of what you want to do or is it more of a stream of consciousness? To my mind these are somewhat like dreamscapes.

I like to randomly open my sketchbooks, pick up one of the unfinished pages that I am drawn to at that particular moment, and continue working on it. This is very similar to almost all my work, even large scale, as I am not at all drawn to planning out my process. I see all my work as a time and place where I release myself from the need to control and plan, which is almost the opposite of how my mind works the rest of the time 😉

My art practice gives me a license not to be concerned with the outcomes, and to enjoy a sense of flow. I guess that is then reflected back in the work itself.

In my process, I see a metaphor for the duality of life; where certain things can be controlled, while others happen spontaneously.

Can you tell me briefly about your artistic journey – how did you wind up here with these images?

My artistic journey goes way back to my earliest childhood. Ever since I was very little I was drawn to doodling and playing with clay. Many of my parents’ close relatives are visual artists by profession; some are painters, others sculptors and printmakers, several of them are also university art professors. Though both my parents and sister hold degrees in math and physics, my parents always recognized and encouraged my artistic expression, and bringing me up, they were in general never stifling.

I think the spontaneity I am drawn to relates greatly to the way I was brought up, with a general sense of freedom to often do what I like. Some might call this being spoiled, I guess.

In my work I am always interested in the spontaneity of the process, and a sense of life and intimacy. I am not interested in work that would be considered bold and striking, but rather I seek the expression that is quiet and calming. My works can, in a strange way, be seen as both optimistic and a bit melancholic at the same time. I guess at heart I am a true romantic.



Thursday, April 08, 2021

 DREAMLAND

Olson-Larsen Galleries, Des Moines, IA 

April 9, 2021-May 22, 2021

Tomorrow is the opening of "Dreamland" at Olson-Larsen Galleries in Des Moines, IA.

This will be my first time to exhibit with the gallery, and I am excited to show twelve of my watercolors, from several of my series, in a group exhibition with five artists: Jillian Dickson, Naomi Friend, Jane Gilmor, Jeanine Coupe Ryding and Ken Smith.

 "Dreams are ephemeral and elusive. Much like washes of watercolor, words in a passing conversation, moments caught on film, and nearly endangered species. The artists in Dreamland are dealing with fleeting feelings, shapes, colors, ideals, ambitions, and strength through their individual expression– all coming together to create one sweet dream."

(by Olson-Larsen Galleries) 


 
 Pictured above top to bottom: Origin Cloud, 56"x55", watercolor on paper, Origin Cloud, 56"x55" watercolor on paper and Blush Nebula, 35"x55" watercolor on paper*
 





Saturday, October 24, 2020

 ART IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS

Schingoethe Center of Aurora University

 



 I am right now exhibiting these three "Migration" panels, in the "Art in the Time of Coronavirus" exhibition of the Schingoethe Center of Aurora University (12"x12" watercolor, graphite and burn marks on wood panel).

Here are the links to this online exhibition and my short contributing video

During this unprecedented time of the corona virus pandemic everyone's routines have changed, nothing is quite the same, and we are all learning to adjust to every single day as it comes. The country's political and social crisis adds an intense layer of uneasiness and uncertainty.

It is interesting to me that my new series on wood panels, the one I started last year, titled "Migration", emerged as a reflection on the changes and perpetual adjustments in my process of moving from Croatia to the United States many years ago. This feeling of unknown, of being suspended rather than grounded has only intensified, and I am certain it is now the prevailing feeling for practically the entire humankind.

Every day I find gratitude in the ability to add small marks to my sketchbooks, whenever an opportunity arises. Sometimes it comes while my kids are playing in the yard, sometimes while sitting by my kindergartner during his online school meetings. It's all more fluid now, and that is a nicer way to say: the concept of time feels quite blurry. There is more time, and yet less rest for the mind.

I feel, if all ends well, and we push through, this pandemic will probably be a time to remember how much we got to be together. And yet, in this moment, however blissful the cuddles and playing together (and doing school together!) are, there is a huge lack of "alone" time. Time for reflection. Time for a quiet room, with nobody else but yourself, for just a couple of hours. I am not counting here the very early morning that I am already stealing when I wake up a few hours before everyone else in our house...

If it, indeed, all goes well, I am asking myself, will I remember the richness of the time together, and reflect on it with a sense of nostalgia; once my studio resumes being again just - my studio, and no more also a makeshift classroom of my little five year old brother-in-arms.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

 THE POWER OF TIME AND THE PANDEMIC CYCLE

Franja Zanic, a small book of poems

A few days ago I celebrated my 44th birthday. I distinctly remember the time when my mom turned 44. My sister and made her a card; it said: "Happy birthday, mama, this is the year when you will be sitting on two chairs." The expression "sitting on two chairs" in Croatia usually means trying to please everyone, or trying to do many things at the same time, and we wanted to acknowledge how our mom was always working hard on all fronts, and we knew well that her multitasking was not an easy undertaking. 

My parents both having math degrees, there was a lot of talk about numbers in our house anyway, so my sister and I naturally concluded how appropriate was that 44 resembled two chairs. 

This all now feels like it was a hundred years ago!

Today, if my grandfather Franja was still alive, it would have been his 100th birthday. He was a writer and just a few days ago my sister stumbled upon a Wiki page about him, discovering his exact birth date. 

Unfortunately, instead of turning 100, my grandfather died at 26. He caught tuberculosis during the WWII, and didn't recover, my grandmother Kornelija outlived him by only a few years (she died at the age of 33).

That being said, my dad lost his father when he was just 2 and his mother at 13. The story of their lives and their unfortunate destinies resonates so powerfully at this time when the entire world is in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The passing of time and its relativity is so very strange. What is - a long time, what is - only a little bit? Regardless whether there is a way to answer that question - it is so apparent that our (human) fragility is very real. Every moment truly counts. 

My grandfather lived to be only 26, he was at the battlefields, fighting the Nazis, I imagine he was often starving, cold and miserable, like so many young people around him. And yet during his short life, he passionately wrote poetry, studied Slavistics at the University of Zagreb, and in Vinkovci, (the city where he lived, where my dad was born and where I was born) - a street was named after him. He left a little mark. 

Not to mention he and Kornelija had my dad, and without their existence I wouldn't be here, my sister wouldn't be here, our children wouldn't be here today.

I don't know much about my grandfather Franja, we only heard stories from other people. That he was incredibly bright, passionate, that while his siblings were playing in the yard, he would be stuck indoors and devour literature. His younger brother would tell him - "Franja, why don't you come outside, get some sunlight, play ball with me?" But he was so driven and obsessed with books, he would simply forget to get out. 

I only have this small selection of his poems. It is so unusual to read his words, see his handwriting and his young face on a black and white photo, see my grandma's name (Kornelija) mentioned in several poems.

The notion that the two of them were at some point in time perfectly real, with their loves, and passions and joys and sorrows, and I am already so much, much older than either of them!

 

Saturday, July 11, 2020


Three Summer 2020 Exhibitions



Announcement for the summer exhibit at gallery 1871, on view now through September 5th, 2020


As the summer is passing in such a very different way than any summer before, just like everybody else right now, I am reflecting on what is behind, and what in front of me.


Image from the gallery 1871 exhibition with five of my watercolors


My gut reaction to the general instability and uncertainty of this time is to try and weather the storm the best way I can.
Honestly, I continue being active with my art practice as if I am holding on for dear life. I can sense my instinct is at high alert, reminding me of the turbulent time of war during my teenage years in Croatia. Thankfully, the art proves to be my haven every time when the going gets tough, and presents itself as something secure and stable I can rely on. It helps me cope with the present, tremendously.I have to mention that I am lucky to have such a great support from the three galleries that represent me.
That being said; today is the opening of the three-artist summer exhibition at Gallery 1871 in Chicago, where I have over a dozen of large scale watercolors, all elegantly framed.



Above: current exhibition at  gallery 1871, my three Origin watercolors on the left, Elise Morris canvas on the right



Above: gallery 1871, my Blush Nebula left and my two Origin Aqueous watercolors in the back, right


This is my debut with the Chicago Art Source's gallery 1871 and I am simply thrilled with this new representation, here in Chicago. 


One of my Origin pieces is on the announcement poster on the building's facade (image above), and it feels fulfilling to see it from the street, a sense that this calming image hopefully for a moment brightens up a gaze for so many passersby.

In addition to this three-artist exhibition in Chicago (featuring works by Patricia Finley, Elise Morris and myself), my work is also right now on view at Walker Fine Art in Denver, in "Power and Fragility" : a six artist exhibit that explores the bold and powerful, as well as the delicate and fragile aspects of nature (featuring works by Tonia Bonnell, Patricia Finley, Jane Guthridge, Allison Svoboda, Zelda Zinn, and myself).



Migration, 24"x36", watercolor and burn marks on wood panel


At Walker, I am showing my recent Migration series on wood panels. You can see a brand new video from the Curator's Insights series, with the gallery owner Bobbi Walker presenting this body of work here.Migration, 2020, 24"x26", watercolor and burn marks on wooden panel*, now on view in "Power and Fragility" at Walker Fine Art, Denver CO.
My large scale Origin watercolor is also right now in the online exclusive exhibition "Transparent" at Kathryn Markel Fine Arts, and it can be acquired directly through the gallery website here.



Origin, 95"x55", watercolor on paper


Lastly, I would like to end this note with a sincere hope that you are somewhere safe and healthy, that we all push through this challenging time, and that every cloud must have a silver lining.

Monday, June 01, 2020



HUMANITY, TODAY

Origin, watercolor 20"x30"
I have started my Origin series many years ago. Moving from my native country, Croatia, to the United States seventeen years ago created a feeling of nostalgia, a sense of never fully belonging. I came here as an adult, so the complicated nuances of language that can't be translated, and the cultural differences are always there with me. I carry them as a tiny weight. A small price to pay to live a life where I want to be.
When I was a teenager we had a war in my country and many of my friends of different nationalities fled the county overnight. My best friend was one of them, and I didn't know if she and her family were alive for several years. They just disappeared overnight. The city where I lived became a war zone and was under constant grenading. My entire high school was "transplanted" to a remote area where it was safe, and we lived there for a full year.
We were lucky we were alive. 
Those were difficult times in my life, and it hurts to know what people are capable of, how cruel humanity can be. And today it hurts me to think a human life can be extinguished on the basis of race. It sickens me to see the color of one's skin can make a difference in life or death. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

TWO EXHIBITIONS DURING COVID-19
Spring/Summer 2020

Transparent @ Kathryn Markel Fine Arts NY
Power and Fragility @ Walker Fine Art Denver






During these unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is hard to grasp the entire world is affected and foresee what deep impact it is still about to have on all of us.
One thing is for certain; the way we perceive our life and our world is changing dramatically, and we are all shaken to our core.


As an artist, my practice is now complicated by the lack of studio time, as my once standard working hours are now exchanged with time taking care of my kids. Simultaneously, my need to create is more heightened, my want to express and react to this new state is full of urgency.
And while it is challenging to carve out uninterrupted moments to work, I am grateful for being still healthy, for my family being healthy, for being in this together.

 I am thrilled to have my work right now included in two concurrent exhibitions. 
 "Power and Fragility", at Walker Fine Arts, and "Transparent" at Markel Fine Arts.

In "Power and Fragility" I am showing my new series on wooden panels, titled "Migration", a series I started late last year after I officially became a US citizen.




                                     Above: Migration series, mixed media on wood panels, 24"x36", 2020*, available through Walker Fine Arts.
Here is the link to a short video about my work in this exhibition.

"Power and Fragility" opens for viewing at Walker Fine Art gallery both this Friday, May 22, 2020, 3-8 pm, and Saturday, May 23, 2020, 11-5 pm. There is an online sign-up for 20-minute viewing sessions through Signupgenius.com  LIVE virtual tours will also be broadcasted on Walker Fine Art Facebook and Instagram pages at 3 pm, 5 pm and 7 pm on May 22nd.
 

"Transparent", is Markel Fine Arts' online exclusive exhibition that can be viewed both on the gallery website as well as Artsy now through June 27th. All work is for sale directly through the gallery website and Artsy. A new feature on the Markel Fine Arts website is "view on a wall" which brings the artwork scale in space closer to the viewer.
         
I believe art has the power to comfort and heal, and I hope my work brings solace to those who feel the connection with it, aesthetically and emotionally.



Above: New series Flow/Earth, 22"x30", watercolor on paper, now available @ Kathryn Markel Fine Arts *