No matter how the weather may be outside, the sun is always shining in the delightful paintings of Daniela Safrankova on display in her exhibition "Journeys." For a brief period at the beginning of her career, Safrankova's palette was more subdued, reflecting the rainy days and grey walls of her native Prague. After a move to the California coast in 1995, the new landscape and ocean vistas opened her palette up to the primary, bright colors she still employs. Just as with Van Gogh, an artist she greatly admires, the change in setting charged her imagination with color and a bold handling of the paint.
Safrankova's work is primarily concerned with the landscape, which she portrays in joyous hues of yellow, red and green. The space in her canvasses is bursting with life and vitality, the cosmic dance of nature and existence reflected in her dynamic diagonal compositions. The spaces are built from rhythmic waving lines and forms, which charge the work with an inner energy, pulsating through the vibrant colors. None of the lines are straight in Safrankova's world. The forms all swirl together, each interlocking in it's rightful place
These paintings are a document of the painter's experiences; they become a record of her journey through life, the places she has seen which, through her skilled depiction, she imbues with radiant beauty. A sense of playfulness and mystery is also present in the work. As with Chagall, Safrankova revels in playful juxtapositions in some of her canvasses which tease at a narrative. Though she pays homage to some of the great masters, her work is always fresh and never imitative.
Her light touch is equally at home in both rural and urban motifs. It's no wonder that she has painted in Rio de Janeiro, for in her cityscapes a sense of carnival reigns supreme. The night sky revolves like a giant ferris wheel over the festive streets. Faces, windows, lanterns and cobblestones- all shine like stars dotting the surface of these scenes.
Having returned a few years ago to her homeland, Safrankova now paints the Czech landscape with the same tropical tones she found in her journeys in the Americas, the Caribbean, and China. However, her golden vision of California sunshine in the hills of South Bohemia doesn't seem at all out-of-place. The rounded forms of the hills, ponds and village facades echo one another, creating the same dynamic sense of joy and rhythm found in her earlier work. In these pictures, the southern light glows through the landscape, and as visions, they warm the heart.
The work of Daniela Šafránková is a masterful interpretation of our coexistence with nature. Šafránková paints what she sees and what she feels, plainly and civilly. Without seeking spectacular moments she finds them instinctually. Her powerful lines and distinctive coloring lead us into her world. Her color scheme is influenced by her life in California, by the different light, and is one of the main factors of the intensity of Šafránková's emotional message. Her work is understandable and gracious, and a valuable contribution to contemporary Czech landscape painting.
Dušan Sedláček, PhD.
TALKING COLORS II
Entering the Nova Sin gallery you are greeted by an explosion of vibrant colors, as if Petrin's spring gardens had moved indoors for the winter. This is the effect of Daniela Safrankova's nearly 50 canvases in "Talking Colours II" currently on view at the gallery.
On February 6th, the painter hosted IWAP members, providing delicious home-baked treats
and a gracious and informative talk on her inspiration, vision and creative process. Referring to her paintings as "my little children", Daniela recounted her training from the age of 6 at a Czech State art school through her degree from the Academy of Performing Arts (DAMU), in Prague. Later, as a theatre and art teacher in California, she had a "hands on American experience", and had traveled widely before returning to her native Prague 5 years ago.
Daniela revealed two worlds of her art, the inner and the outer. Transforming her experience of her surroundings, she "cherishes" these places and creates her own little world. But when she "sends her paintings out into the world", it is her way of bringing happiness to people - communicating an experience of joy to soften life's difficulties. Happiness practically bursts forth from her landscape canvases that whisper to you of Cesky Krumlov, Marianske Lazne, Brazilian courtyards, café-lined French streets. You feel as if you can bask in the intensity of her yellows, a result of being "too much under the sun" of California, the Caribbean, Brazil and Southern France. Influenced by Van Gogh and Mark Chagall, she creates a dialogue and tension between blues and yellows, especially in her interior scenes.
Painting in intense, mostly primary colors, she applies oils with regular brushes creating a flat surface. "These are not supposed to be realistic scenes", and so she intentionally exaggerates the flatness. Applying varnish to the surface gives a satin finish, and sometimes the colors, especially the yellows, can take months to dry! Choosing mostly a 90 x 70 cm format, Daniela shows her practical side - "they can fit in the back of the family car!"
Several paintings follow the life of tulips, her favorite flower, capturing their cycle from early prim buds to wide-open blooms in "Ze zivota tulipanu I, II and III." Dahlias dance in blues, reds and yellows, and in "Doutniky", the multi-hued cattails march across the canvas with the precision of Hradcany guards.
In response to a question about symbols in her painting, Daniela remarked that although she has a "relationship with each painting", it is the viewers who find their own vision or symbols as well as feel the joy of her paintings. Judging from the smiles on the guests faces, mission accomplished, Daniela.
Talking Colors (Part Two)
You know what it's like rushing all day from one meeting to another and from one thing to the next. It's never ending! Suddenly it's 6pm and you have to get home to cook dinner, to finish up some odds and ends.
Tonight, however, is different. Tonight you've got an invitation to go to an opening of an art exhibition. Tonight you also know the artist.
You know what it's like when it's cold and dark outside and you just want to get home to a warm house, and a cup of tea and a good book seems so appealing. Hey, what is wrong with you any way! How many times do you get invited to the opening night of an art exhibition?
Daniela Safrankova, who I've had the pleasure of working with and eating too much cake with at times, invited me to her art exhibition "Talking Colors, Part Two." Then I, who until 3 years ago did not know which end of a brush to dip into paint, decided to write an article about it.
I was fashionably late for the opening, well, five minutes! The curator's presentation was already underway. Then Daniela and her friend recited a poem called Talking Colors, named after the exhibition. It was lovely and fitted both the mood and the paintings perfectly, and, luckily for me, each verse was read in both Czech and English (or this article would have been really short!)
Let me give you an example of the atmosphere, by sharing with you the verse on "Blue".
Modesty blue is fake in who
She claims to be. She should so too,
When others look to her for hope
But all she feels like is a dope,
Sometimes to glow, to shine, renewed.
But then, spread thin, all-up and chewed
Wall paper background pealed and used.
Flexing, bending, she knows to cope.
In her corner she sips her brew
Of mint and tea, by shadows wooed.
Cold, indifferent, mistress of trope
And dreams instilled in those who mope,
She waits for angels to trip through,
(excerpt from the poem by Karl Koerner).
After much applause a lively jazz band kicked things off and we were free to wonder around the gallery and I did, glass in hand, and, as always with Daniela, eating a piece of delicious cake. Maybe this is what all art journalists do- obviously it helps them get into the subject matter better!
So, how best to describe it? My first impression was the room is just filled with a wonderful variety of canvases full of vivid color, where no subtle shades reside. The color just infects you and brightens your spirit, even before you take a closer look at the pictures. The paintings, all in oil, reflect Daniela's vivid imagination and take you places- to Cesky Krumlov, to Casa Baleia in Brasil, to the woods mushroom picking, and to fields of sunflowers and tulips. A riot of colour and imagination.
The invitation describes the exhibition as "displaying the vibrant art of Daniela Safrankova, which tells unique, wonderful stories of people and places in a world of color." I think that this reviewer, Lawrence Wells, summed up what we all saw at the exhibition that night. "She portrays her topic in joyous hues of yellow, red and green. The space in her canvasses is bursting with life and vitality, the cosmic dance of nature and existence reflected in her dynamic diagonal compositions. None of the lines are straight in Safrankova's world. The forms all swirl together, each interlocking in its rightful place"
So, please take the opportunity to see Daniela's very original work! And, again to quote Wells: "In these pictures, the southern light glows through the landscape, and as visions, they warm the heart." You won't be disappointed!