Andrew Charyna’s “Portrait of a Lemon” Art Exhibit
Andrew Charyna’s recent show “Quidditas” at Leonardo Galleries in Yorkville, Toronto uncovers unexpected views of very ordinary things: pears, eggshells, an umbrella, ears, a beetle, a bottle, a lamp… His vision penetrates shapes, textures, colors and concentrates on details, nuances, fine points – the quiddities of the objects. The warmth of bright yellow Lemon is stark against dark, almost black background. The artist looks at a lemon fixedly, notices and shows us every shadow and bump on it skin as well as its outside gloss and transparency inside. Following his gaze, suddenly we are struck by the intense intimacy between the artist and his subject. We remember Mark Rothko’s statement about painting large pictures in order to “create a state of intimacy.” In Lemon, color is combined with light to create the image of vitality, of energy, of floating in the darkness of vast space. Charyna uses very small brushes and brushstrokes to achieve a smoothness of surface which reflects light from every angle no matter how the picture is positioned.
Charyna effaces boundaries between form and color, switches them in such a way that, in some pictures, colors jump to attention first, before the viewers even notice what is depicted, as in Between the Din and the Silence. In this large scaled painting Charyna not only reversed the usual places of subject matter – the ears - and the color – blue, he transferred the color to the foreground. Traditionally, blue has been used mostly as a background. As Victoria Finlay remarked, “…blue recedes into the distance – artists use it to create space in their paintings; TV stations use it as a background on which they can superimpose other footage – so it represents a place that is outside normal life, beyond not only the seas but the horizon itself.” Charyna regarded his blue, which is highly intense, rich and densely saturated in this painting, as a main “protagonist” – independent of any narration.
Charyna’s fascination with insects came from his grandfather, who had an extensive collection of them. In the painting Beetle the artist dissected a huge insect and put it “parts” in close proximity to each other but still detached, the way an engineer would prepare to assemble a complex mechanism. Paradoxically, this taken apart shape, even at first glance, resembles a human figure. After a while of gazing the “limbs” start looking like sophisticated tools. Clean, precise lines run both parallel and around each other in a rhythmic motion that firmly holds our attention. Charyna’s various images of pears from glossy Voluptuous Pears with wax quality to them, to phallic Pears, to Rotten Pears with realistic signs of decay, to Dark Idea with partial transformation of a pear into a lamp, drawing attention,
Storm stands somehow stands aside from the rest of Charyna’s oeuvres. In this small painting the artist combined representation with abstraction so it emanates nostalgia for cubism, and at the same time strikes us as contemporary, dynamic and emotionally imbued.