By the late 19th century the so called “academic art” had embarked upon new roads of expression. We could say that modernism or even abstract art itself had begun many years before.When Goya was painting his famous “Cyclops” he could never have known that he was setting the foundations of today’s “Contemporary Art”.English painter William Turner, when painting his furious seas in 1821, was ushering in what we know as abstract art today. Much later, Vincent Van Gogh used Chinese and Japanese ideograms in the backgrounds of his paintings. These however meant nothing and their purpose was decorative. The same can be said about the skies and meadows depicted in his works. If someone looks more closely they will observe that if they separate them from the whole work, the images alone are “abstract”. The same happens with his bright colors, as well with his thick impasto brushstrokes. This texture and technique will be used by various artists in the beginning and late twentieth century to express modern art, and ultimately “Abstract Art”.In 1890, Whistler painted the first perhaps aniconic work that strongly resembled Japanese aniconic works, with ink on silk. These had existed since before the 18th century.
Therefore, the path of modern and abstract art was established long ago.Before I refer to my subject, the art and paintings of Olga Chnara, I must speak about “abstract art”.We could say that abstract art as we know it, was born after the end of WW1.
Picasso and Braque laid the foundations, inaugurating the beautiful and magical world of art that we know today as “Cubism”. We could say that this art movement was the pre-curser of abstract art and what followed it.The first to be considered truly an abstract artist was the Russian Vassily Kandinsky. He was the first to paint absolute aniconic paintings. He also wrote a book explaining in detail the theory of this approach.
Kandinsky makes us understand that even when there is no subject, or clear form, there is geometry, in addition to many kinds of “weights” … light and heavy … that are expressed by the colors themselves. He makes it clear that a work must be made in such a way that it can be hung on a wall on any side and still look right. This, of course, is not easy to achieve.After Kandinsky many other painters followed this approach, including Paul Klee. What if this kind of art started in Europe and then found its fuller development in America, through the work of Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Fontana and many others?It is more than one hundred years since artists began to be inspired by abstract art. That inspiration continues to the present in Europe and North America. Olga Chnara, a celebrated young Greek artist whose paintings are made in the abstract style, now lives and works in Canada. Abstract art is not an easy task. It requires significant knowledge and craftsmanship, because without using the image as a means of conversation with the viewer, it has, as its only weapon, plain color. The artist has to find a way to interact with the viewer, who is often very demanding … easily rejecting whatever they don’t understand. This difficult road was chosen by Olga to express her inner thoughts through her art. Using only her colors and paintbrush she manages to invite us into the beautiful world she creates. She is very successful in this, because if someone studies her work they will clearly see that every painting is totally different from another. Each painting brings us into a new story. Her imagination and the unique worlds she creates are inexhaustible. As I said before, this technique is very difficult, because an artist can easily be described as unintellectual, or even worse, that she imitates someone else. But Olga has her own techniques and approaches, that are unique to her. Technical mastery, mathematics, architecture, geometry, and much more, are all expressed in her works. A spectator who looks for beautiful images or ‘easy on the eye’ works may never accept these abstract artists. But if art was easy to digest, it wouldn’t be art. One could very well buy photographs, or landscapes. Olga Chnara paints the difficult way, and emerges victorious from her battles, because each and every work is a war of its own.The famous Greek painter Yiannis Tsarouhis said that when people listen to music they don’t expect to understand it. They just like or dislike it. Why then do they try to understand painting, which is, by its nature, the greatest art of all?Through this lens I will ask you to see the works of Olga Chnara. Ask yourself if you could live with them the rest of your life. Myself … I could very well do so.For those who do not feel comfortable with Olga’s works … is it because you try to explain them, or to judge them? I have to remind you before you do, that this art is challenging and has all the knowledge of the universe inside it. Olga, with the beautiful catalogue of work that you hold in your hands, has communicated with the universe itself. Everything resonates with vibrations and colors that are nothing less than the colorful sounds of a piano. Because if we could hear these works, they would play the most beautiful music. Olga has proven herself to be an excellent conductor, or even better, a true “Maestro”.