Saturday, 30 November 2013

The Living Language of Flowers: Sunflowers

International painter and sculptor Ana Tzarev presents a collection of posts delving into the cultural, social, and historical weight of flowers, the signature subject of her body of work.
Detail from Ana Tzarev's Vincent's Smiling Sunflowers.
Among the world's countless varieties of blooms, it is difficult to find a plant so radiant as the sunflower. From firm, tall stems, they raise their faces to the light and reflect warmth in their golden petals. So devoted is the sunflower to its source of life and energy that developing buds will even follow its movement across the sky, an adaptation known as heliotropism. This remarkable phenomenon led the French to name the flower tournesol - "turn with the sun."
The special connection between the sun and this flower has granted the plant a special place in the histories of several cultures. The Aztec, Inca, and Otomi people revered sunflowers: viewing them as earthly symbols of the sun god, it was a common practice to decorate temples with their likeness in gold. Sunflowers were significant in a wide array of traditions among indigenous peoples of the Americas, from using their vivid petals for dye and decoration in religious ceremonies to observing bloom cycles for the creation of hunting calendars.
A field of sunflowers grows beside a nuclear power plant.
The practical uses of the flower may even outshine their magnificent appearance! The strength of sunflower stems provided the native people of North, Meso-, and South America with ample material for the production of durable fibers. Their edible seeds and oil are consumed worldwide. Fascinatingly, they also are renowned for their purifying powers in the harshest conditions: the flowers were planted in the aftermath of the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters to help contain nuclear contamination.
The diverse uses of the sunflower throughout history can be felt in its symbolic meaning. Floriography, the practice of sending secret messages through floral arrangement most popular in the Victorian era, ascribes a number of meanings to this flower; its robust stature represents admiration and haughtiness, deserved pride and false riches. But their steadfast blooms, universal in appeal, have come to represent loyalty, adoration, and cheer.
Detail from one of Van Gogh's numerous sunflower studies.
The eye cannot resist the celebratory blooms of the sunflower - as such, the art world has paid tribute to their beauty time and time again. In his most famous self-portrait, Flemish painter Anthony van Dyck depicted himself standing beside a regal sunflower in bloom. Van Gogh's numerous depictions of the expressive and arresting flowers are among his most beloved works. And when shade fills my days, I turn my face to the brightness of the sunflower, letting their unparalleled exuberance spill across my own canvases.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Flowers as Art History's Messengers of Meaning

I express my emotions in flowers - roses for love, gardenias for fragility, snowdrops for courage, and cherry blossoms for the transience of life.
Among nature's countless gifts are flowers: in the simple grace of their petals, countless souls have been moved to create. But flowers speak of far more than mere beauty. As the art of ages keenly illustrates, the universal language of flowers has long been used to communicate deeper messages, instantly and wordlessly.
Detail from Ana Tzarev's Saffron Pickers.
Van Gogh, Monet, and O'Keeffe placed flowers at the forefront, exploring their curves and hues through their own unique styles. The Dutch masters crafted incredible still-life scenes, with blossoms so stark and expressive that they seem to reach beyond the canvas. However, many of art history's finest works show flowers playing a smaller role, hinting at a scene's meaning in subtle yet significant ways.
Take, for instance, Sir John Everett Millais' portrait of Ophelia from one of the Hamlet's most tragic moments. The young woman is seen floating in a river, moments away from sinking into darkness and death. As described in the scene, a spray of flowers surrounds Ophelia; shortly before her demise, she hands blossoms out to other characters and describes their symbolic weight.
Detail from Millais' Ophelia.
This use of symbolism is mirrored in Millais' representation of the scene. In addition to the flowers mentioned as part of her garland in the play, she clutches a poppy - commonly used to represent sleep and death. The dim and drab of her clothing speaks of the cessation of life while the petals and greenery surrounding her repose remind viewers of its continuation.
The inclusion of flowers as messengers of meaning adds such dimensionality to a masterwork! Gustav Klimt's The Kiss depicts two lovers, a man and woman - the former cloaked in sharp, heavy boxes, the latter draped in a cascade of petals. With one small detail, the artist accentuates the character of the sexes.
The contrast of harsh and soft patterning in the figures suggests the interplay of the sexes in Gustav Klimt's The Kiss.
In The Garden of Earthly Delights, Hieronymus Bosch parallels the innocence and freedom of Paradise against Hell's dismal suffering through the vibrant lushness of vegetation. The stark eroticism of Titian's Venus of Urbino is balanced by the figure's handful of roses, a soft suggestion of traditional romance.
In possessing an awareness of the deeper meaning flowers grant to art, the observer's experience with a piece is greatly enriched. Beyond the technical prowess and aesthetic glory at play on canvas, a story is being told.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Rebuilding the World on Foundations of Love and Peace

This is the second installment in a 2-part post written in celebration of Remembrance Day. To view the first installment, click here.
For those of us who have known the heavy weight of war - whether we have witnessed its toll on a beloved veteran, lost a soul held dear, or outlived the fight ourselves - the message of the poppy is not felt only on Remembrance Day. It is a striking symbol of the struggle we will carry for the rest our lives, the burden of memory. The effects of battle have shaken the world time and time again, but when we rise before its shadows, we are never alone. As survivors, we stand together to prove no sacrifice was made in vain.

The Daily Telegraph recently ran an article about The Poppy Girls, a group of five young women selected by the Royal British Legion to record a song in honour of Remembrance Day. These girls sing from the heart, knowing first-hand what a life touched by war brings: each is the daughter of a father in the armed forces. Their cover of Regina Spektor's "The Call (No Need to Say Goodbye)" will be made available as a single on 10 November, with a portion of the proceeds donated to the Royal British Legion's efforts to support those who have dedicated their lives to serving and protecting others. To see such a beautiful offering made from such young spirits is profoundly touching, a treasure beyond words.
Each Remembrance Day offers opportunities to both reflect on the past and seek out ways to make our future as bright as can be. The greatest tribute we could offer to our veterans is to stop their numbers from growing, to forge a lasting path to peace no storm can wash away. We must strive to reach an end to such incredible suffering.

This goal can only be achieved through uniting our unique talents and energy. As an artist, my life and work are devoted to the pursuit of bringing beautiful dreams to life. Chief among these dreams is a vision of true peace, existing outside of ideals and alive within our daily actions. I made each of my Love flower sculptures, which have been sown across the globe, with the intention of creating safe spaces for dialogue beneath their enormous petals. Progress begins with conversation, and once such exchanges start, the differences that divide us pale against the feelings that bind us.
I offer our world's veterans and their families my poppy flowers as a tribute, made to show that they will never be forgotten - a global bouquet to laud those who stood, brave and humble, for their countrymen. This Remembrance Day, give thanks and show respect by using your unique gift for the greater good. With hard work and hope, may we rebuild our world upon the most stable foundations: love and peace.
In honour of Remembrance Day, Ana Tzarev's Love poppy is now on view at Canary Wharf. For more information, please visit

Friday, 1 November 2013

For Every Poppy's Petal, A Story of Remembrance

As October draws to a close and the air becomes crisp with the fullness of autumn, my memories draw me back to a familiar place. For thousands of men and women worldwide, November brings with it a day of great honour - one that has touched the hearts of so many for nearly a century. On Remembrance Day, we call to mind the tragedies of war, the sacrifices of the brave, and the ways we can bring about a more peaceful planet.
Since 1919, the Commonwealth of Nations, France, Belgium, the United States, and other countries have observed Remembrance Day on 11 November. It is a time to reflect, to show appreciation to those who have served and pay tribute to all souls lost in conflict. In 1915, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae penned his famous ode "In Flanders Fields" after witnessing the way red poppy blossoms spread through the trampled chaos of the battlefield during the Great War. Within years, this poem became the most famous of its day, and from country to country the poppy was recognized as a symbol of remembrance.
The poppy's roots wound themselves into the lives of many families, including my own. When the Second World War tore through my country, I watched as relatives, friends, and neighbors were swept off in its destruction. The flowers left in graveyards were among the few bright things left in its wake, and as a child, I looked after the delicate blooms I found there. I wished to preserve some beauty in a time of tragedy.
By 1956, the war's shockwaves still shook much of the earth. I had left Croatia and moved to New Zealand in order to start a new life and a family with my husband. The meaning of the poppy had only grown stronger with the passing of years, and before long, I joined the wives and mothers who crafted commemorative flowers for the benefit of The Royal British Legion.
When we first began to make these simple tokens of remembrance, they were constructed from red and green crepe paper. The poppies were beautiful but fragile, and patrons would need to purchase a new flower each year. As our efforts gained support, we were able to craft the poppies from a more durable cloth, and our little blooms could be displayed proudly year after year. I remember seeing men pin our cloth poppies to their lapels and felt my heart swell - with them, they carried both their memories of those lost and mine.
Ana Tzarev's Love poppy, installed in October at Canary Wharf.
For years, I made poppies to benefit servicemen, selling them to our church's congregation and at parent-teacher galas at our children's school. As our town filled with more and more of the bright remembrance blooms, it was clear how far their message reached and how many lives they touched. Our community, like so many others, united to support those who survived the war and the families of those who never made it home.
To this day, I believe the Royal British Legion's legacy of providing necessary care to veterans and their families makes them one of the finest and most worthwhile charities. On Remembrance Day and always, I feel blessed that the first poppies I created - long before my life as an artist - were made in their good name.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Thoughts on the Venice Biennale

"When Viewing Art, be ready to participate, to be moved and inspired by the uniqueness of the message as it pertains to you."
The Venice Biennale has been the pinnacle of the art world since it was first held in 1895. Every two years, creators of all sorts from the vast and varied nations of the world come together to showcase their work. It is a celebration unparalleled, a gala for contemporary artists, appreciators, and tastemakers to converge - over 300,000 people have gathered for the festivities in a single year. In recent years, it has even grown to encompass other realms of culture, including theatre, dance, music, architecture, and cinema - enabling a greater dialogue across the divides of genre and style.
If ever we need evidence that contemporary art is alive and well, the Biennale provides it for us. The number of participating artists and countries grows per year, a flourishing of creative energy continuously gaining momentum. So great is its power that it cannot be contained, with unofficial satellite exhibitions appearing around Venice, and other biennales emerging in Istanbul, Havana, Berlin, Shanghai, and a number of other cities around the globe.
Looking deep into the event's history, so many of the art world's most remarkable names appear as featured participants. The Biennale is the intersection of history and modernity, tradition and the cutting edge - the center of life for the art of the present day.
Jeff Koons's Balloon Dog on display at the 2011 Venice Biennale. [image source]
This past year, I was thrilled to open an exhibition in tandem with the Venice Biennale. The gorgeous Museo Diocesano di Venezia became home for Love & Peace, a finely curated selection of my flower paintings and sculptures. I felt so blessed to know that my works could bloom in the eyes of the Biennale's visitors, finding their place within the venerated city.
I felt my heart beat in time with scores of others who have devoted their lives to beauty and pursuit of creation. The far stretches of the world folded and, together, we offered up our greatest achievements for the enjoyment of all mankind. The Biennale highlights the genius that is the inheritance of every nation of the world - and the power to unite those nations through the unceasing magnificence of art.
Ana Tzarev's Love & Peace is on display at through November 24. To learn more about the Love & Peace Campaign, visit

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Give the Arts an International Day of Honour

Can art save the world and pave the way for peace?
Looking far into the history of man, it is apparent that the epochs of each civilization are marked by one common trait: a great flourishing of the arts.
In as many varied and beautiful forms as the mind can imagine, those who came before us elevated themselves and their people through bountiful creative expression. At last, existence meant so much more than survival! From Egypt's pyramids and wall paintings to Greece's incredible epics, from India's stirring songs to Japan's incomparable theatre, we find achievements that have inspired for centuries. Between renaissance and revolution, the tides of social unrest and stability produced the paintings, songs, operas, and poems we have come to view as time's greatest treasures.
Botticelli's universally-renowned Birth of Venus.
The tradition continues into this day. Across the globe, visual artists, dancers, composers, and authors crystallize the present, preserving it so that future generations may learn of our struggles and triumphs. Artists are mankind's most effective historians, storytellers, and communicators. Through their work, life takes shape and develops meaning that is instantly grasped - their gift is tremendous, capable of giving more and reaching further than can be fathomed.
For the past year, my life and my work have been dedicated to the belief that genuine positive change can manifest through art. I have observed the transcendent power of creativity; I have witnessed the ways it touches people from all walks of life. Art is the one true universal language, understood instantly by the mind and the heart. My Love & Peace Campaign focuses on unifying the nations of the world through the common experience of interaction with public art, and as I have brought my monumental flower sculptures to locations across the globe, the resonant power of beauty to create harmony has left me astounded.
A sample of visitor-contributed 'photo stories' from Ana Tzarev's Love & Peace web site.
But this goal of establishing harmony through art cannot be achieved in isolation. For progress to be won, artists who work for change must come to be recognized and supported by the leaders of the world. I implore Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and the members of the UN to consider instating an International Day of Arts, so that we may celebrate the diversity of genius possessed in each nation of our shared world - a world that yearns to be healed.
Across the vast divide of differences that set all people apart, there exists within artistic expression the thread that can bind us together. Let art and its creators receive the honour they deserve and engender the change we need, so that the beauty that defines every unique culture also will become the force that fosters peace among them.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

The Call for Peace Rings Out Worldwide

Ana's Thought: "Artist, make all your life's work come to harvest time in total Love & Peace."
On 21 September, people across the world found reason to celebrate, united by common cause: The International Day of Peace. All nations of the Earth lit up with goodwill, hearts burning like beacons of hope for a safer, freer world to be shared.
As an artist, my aim is to bring a peaceful world into being through creativity and communication. I was overjoyed to witness and take part in the tremendous spread of love on this day. The Love & Peace Campaign, my ongoing sculptural project carrying art into public spaces around the globe, has provided me with strong evidence that the sentiment of the International Day of Peace shall never fall on deaf ears -- the cry for peace grows louder each day!
Children in Shenzhen gather around one of Tzarev's Love & Peace flowers.
As the Campaign has made stops in locales the world over -- from Prague to Shenzhen, from New York to Singapore -- I have seen how great the demand for Love & Peace has become. In each place where the giant, shimmering remembrance poppies are displayed, people pause to reflect, document, and share. We all wish to be part of the greater good, and each small gesture we make is an invaluable contribution to growing progress. I thank all who have visited these sculptures as they continue their global tour and wish that the message of Love & Peace travels with them forever.
We are never in want for inspirational figures in our efforts to reach a world where Love & Peace reign. Among the greatest and most respected names in history are those who shone from within, upturning currents of violence with offerings of justice and grace. We look to Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, and countless other brave, priceless souls who elevated the spirit of all mankind.
Ana Tzarev and Ringo Starr stand together for peace.
But our bright stars do not only illuminate the past -- there are so many among us who, through their actions and words, guide us along the path of peace today. Malala Yousafzai, after overcoming such horrible violence, has dedicated herself to a life of activism. Aung San Suu Kyi's indomitable dedication has made her a luminary not only for the people of Burma, but for all who champion freedom.
We must always keep in mind that the potential for all great beauty is encased within a seed in our souls. With diligence, patience, and empathy, the seed will germinate and bloom into a gift for our fellow men. Each of us is capable of magnificence beyond our imagination -- what will your gift be?

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Creativity as a Salve for the Mind and Heart

Ana's Thought: "Good Art warms you on a cold, sad day and gives you company when you are lonely."
In this life, it is destined that even the most serene and inspired soul will be tested, as is the way of human existence - for without shadow, we cannot come to appreciate light. When dark clouds gather above, we steel ourselves against the storm and resolve to get through. In life's trying moments, art transforms from pastime or profession to devoted confidante. Creativity has been the life preserver for many great men of our time.
Georgia O'Keeffe beside her canvas and her inspiration; detail from Red Canna.

Georgia O'Keeffe, an artist of superb skill and a spirited, independent woman, was not immune to such struggles. Like the long shadows cast by clouds in the desert sky she loved, there were times when darkness passed over her. Periods of illness and a tumultuous relationship with her husband shaded her vibrant vision. But when depression threatened Georgia, she turned to her art for salvation. She created for herself a world of purest hue and fluid freedom. This world is offered to us in the exquisite paintings she left behind.
Art is not a healing practice reserved for those who make their career from it - bringing ideas to life through creation has the power to lift any soul! The indomitable Winston Churchill was, at times, plagued by what he called 'the black dog of depression.' He, too, found the relief he needed in art.

At the age of forty, Churchill first picked up a palette and found sanctuary within canvas. Over the course of his life, Churchill gave the world 500 magnificent still-life scenes and landscapes. His gift lay quietly within while he went about changing history, and surfaced to show him the path to respite and quiet meditation - an escape from the tension of his public life.

When life's burdens weigh too heavily on my shoulders, I have found that the creation of art frees me from my struggle. In the focused tranquility of painting and sculpting, my mind cannot wander to worries. May you also find light to fill your days in the passions that mark your life - what you love will be the fire that fuels you through all trials.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

A Glimpse Into an Artist's Life

Ana's Thought: "Millions find fulfillment in Art."
Detail from Ana Tzarev's Early Sunrise.
Curious-hearted artists of this generation are really lucky. In the past, those who wished to receive guidance in their craft needed to travel to the great cities for art, in the hope that masters would deign to instruct them. Creative communities were built, but many aspiring artists had to abandon the lives they knew to 'come into the fold'. Those who worked independently were often dealt the hand of isolation as they toiled to attain excellence.
Today, artists may have their cake and eat it, too. Though the importance of community to fledgling creative souls must never be devalued, we are now afforded the ability to grow and strengthen our work through the support of an international network. When distance threatens to divide, technology stitches up the gaps between us.
As an artist, I have been delighted to see that many like-minded creators have turned to social media to ask for my opinion on their work. Even more have submitted questions, seeking clarity about my creative process. In my life, I do not have any secrets to keep - the knowledge and experience I possess should be shared, so that others may carry it with them.
In this blog, I will address three questions recently sent to me through my Facebook page. I hope that my followers, readers, and hopeful creators will enjoy this glimpse into an artist's unique life.
When you look at a blank canvas, what do you think to create?
My ideas are born within my imagination's studio long before I set them to canvas. When the vision in my mind appears, I work out its details before a single daub of paint falls. I then select the canvas onto which I will transcribe my dream. For example, when I am moved to depict the gorgeous cherry blossoms that gift us with their fragrance in spring, I focus on the texture of their bark, the lightness of their petals, until I can feel within me the movements that will bring them to life. I then imagine their scale and find the suitable canvas to house them. Within my studio, I keep no fewer than 100 canvases to meet any need I have.
Detail from Ana Tzarev's Sky of Rose Diamonds.
To translate my vision into images, I create a rough sketch of what I see with charcoal. Gradually, I build the shapes and textures in layers and layers of paint. I squeeze pigment straight from the tube, blend with my fingers, and shape with brushes. To reflect the picture in my mind, each piece needs its own special combination of techniques.
How long does it take for you to create a painting?
The gestation period of a creative concept - the time between the mind's conception and the birth of a completed piece - varies greatly. There are three primary factors that affect this process in my work: the size of the piece, the importance of it (to me or to others), and how strong the flow of inspiration is within me.
If I am creating works as part of a series, the process is swift - each canvas runs fluidly into the next as the piece is completed. With individual paintings, all of my focus is reserved for the canvas before me, and the process of creation takes longer.
The nature of this development differs from artist to artist. Some may feel the movement and energy igniting their idea and simply must see it through! Others may spend years letting the idea formulate within them before they move to make their work - and may take years of coming and going to bring it into being.
Detail from Ana Tzarev's Blue Diamond.
What brand of paint do you use?
There are three brands of paint that I prefer above all others. Rembrandt creates a fantastic line of materials, and the brand is nearly always my top choice. I also favor Windsor & Newton and Sennelier, which are equally high quality paints. What brand I choose for a piece depends on its unique nature - and each kind offers different qualities of texture and hue within the colour spectrum.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Art Journalism Builds the Bridge Between the Creator and His Viewer

Ana's Thought: "Art is an Inspired Communicator with Imagination - it conveys its message with surprise and delight to the viewer."

Art, like all things in life, is not produced within a vacuum. No matter how strong a creator's vision, there are factors that will influence the style, colour, and content of his work.

As artists, we are mirrors of the reality that we perceive. The process of creation and reflection takes a fascinating turn when it is joined by analysis, placing art in broader context. For this reason, I feel that the role of the art journalist must be given due praise.

The rise of the Internet has granted aspiring writers with great opportunity to take to the front lines of the ever-shifting art world. It may take little more than one burst of inspiration to have the global community take notice! There are so many fine art blogs and columns available to the curious reader - from the New York Times' fantastic ArtsBeat to the Financial Times' well-curated Arts page and countless others in between. Twitter holds hidden gems for those who seek them out; sharp minds and critical eyes give offer their thoughts about current happenings in art in 140 characters or less. We live in an age of unprecedented exchange, from idea to idea - we have before us an incredible opportunity to learn.

The art journalist is a bridge builder, spanning the divide between creator and appreciator. Over the course of my career - and increasingly in recent years - I have been fortunate to find that people around the world wish to learn what drives me to create. After seeing my emotions projected onto canvas and turned to images, they want to hear my story in my own words. It is a tale I am always happy to share!

Each interviewer casts light on a different angle of the story: in Monaco's Riviera Times, the right question illuminated my deeply personal connection with the beautiful principality. Singapore's Ageless Online aimed to reach older art appreciators, asking me to give insight into the foundations of a successful career in later life. The Czech magazine Beauty & Woman provided readers with my unique definition of home, and how my art makes my home. In Mandarin, Turkish, Cyrillic, and Italian, my thoughts and experiences are given to those who wonder!

Whether or not others take a moment to glance at my art, I would still go on creating. But to know for certain that there are those who see what I have made and wish to learn more sets my will alight. Within their interest I find new impetus to create - and I hope, in turn, my work brings a spark to their lives.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Technology Brings Down the Walls Between Art and Audience

Ana's Thought: "Artist, live and paint in the present each day, for that is all there is."
As years go by, I have learned to take pleasure in the simple joys offered by life. In recent times, I have found a new delight to brighten my days: technology's great power to build bridges between us.
Even as my exhibitions travel the world, there will always be some corner they cannot reach. For this reason, I believe that technology is the contemporary artist's most powerful tool in connecting with potential audiences. My Facebook fan page, with a following of over 400,000 users, reflects a universal enjoyment of energy and serenity that inspires me. Each day, I receive comments from people across the globe - from South America to the Middle East, I am greeted by the kind words of those who are moved by the art I create. This, in turn, sparks in me the will to give more of myself - a beautiful symbiosis of giving and receiving of ourselves.
A screenshot of the Ana Tzarev Facebook page.

Today's artists are alive and active in a time unlike any that came before. Our predecessors 
were never afforded the opportunity to have their work sown so readily! The Internet is a river with rapid currents, sending information throughout the world - you never know when your art will be picked up and carried on. The seed of your creation is picked up by its mighty wind and carried off to bloom. You no longer need to have your name in lights to be known.
Not only does technology forge a path between the creators and appreciators, but it also opens the doors to collaboration between artists. Distance is no longer a hindrance - technology has made it an afterthought.

As for the creators who came before us, their work has been imbued with new life. Through efforts like Google Art Project, the art of the ages continues to dazzle and spark wonder into our new era. We can be immersed in history with no more than a click.
The way that we experience art has been forever altered, and I truly feel that it is for the best. Today's technology provides art with the verve and vigor it deserves, with no stolid walls to tether it. Free to all mankind and with doors always open, the world has become our gallery. All you must do is click!

Love Alive in Art: How My Garden of Love Grows

Ana's Thought: "Artist, your hardest work is your greatest masterpiece."
Ana Tzarev beside one of the Love & Peace sculptures in the production facility.
In my years as an artist, I have observed that nature is the finest craftsman. Her flowers shoot forth from soil and sway in the breeze effortlessly, the product of such intelligent design. How easily we take for granted the wonder of creation, the hidden systems that keep the world in motion! My appreciation for nature's incredible intricacies has never been stronger than when I first made my vision of Love & Peace, my ongoing sculptural campaign, into a reality.
Before a single petal could open in the first monumental poppy, its seed needed to germinate in my mind. The idea to create a striking symbol from a familiar flower took shape several years ago, brought on by a life of witnessing the way flowers speak of joy to people across the world. I took this idea and translated it into small sculptures in wax and clay. I finessed the details, envisioning how it would appear in greater scale - though these models were much larger than the blooms in my garden, they had quite a way to grow!

It was clear to me that the road to creating these sculptures was marked with complexity. It was a project unlike any I had undertaken before. Fiberglass seemed the perfect material for a work both resilient and eye-catching, and so it was recommended to me that the process of construction be a collaborative effort with Thailand's finest yacht builders. The team with whom I worked over the course of months was skilled beyond compare, true experts of their craft and, like me, driven by perfection. It would be impossible to tell they had never made a sculpture - through long, hot days in the fabrication studio, we brought the flower to life together.
To form the petals' sloping curves, they were first carved out from foam before a cast of each was created. Hours and hours were spent polishing the casts into immaculate smoothness, which would allow the fiberglass to bond to its surface. In all, seven separate pieces fit together to create the flower before the shining black stamens are placed in the center. The exhibition of each sculpture requires careful reassembly. To witness the process of the flower coming together is breathtaking.

Assembly of the Love & Peace flower on Park Lane, London.
From idea to completion, the first Love & Peace flower took over two years to be born - a time during which I learned so much. The creation of this poppy revealed to me how science and art correspond, for without the technical expertise of my team, the flower would be nothing but fantasy, a beautiful mirage in my mind. Working with a multilingual crew, I saw how critical communication is to the success of a project. Most importantly, I learned that you should never let the uncertainties of the unknown change the message in your heart. From a single seed - brought from the shade of doubt into the light of hope - a worldwide campaign for Love & Peace was born.
Artists, you are indomitable; within you is the power to bring dreams into the world as tangible truths. Let your unique voice resound when your brush meets the canvas... let the world see a new creation of joy and peace!

Ana Tzarev at the premiere of her first Love sculpture. Saatchi Gallery, London.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Love Alive in Art: Between Form and Function, A Desire for Design

Ana's Thought: "Artist, be brave! Go and make the most of what you do best!"

Every person you encounter has his or her own idea of what can be considered art. I personally believe that art exists everywhere - to uphold constraints is to deny yourself of so much magnificence!

In recent weeks, my Love & Peace flowers have found their way into conversation with another facet of art: fashion. A number of publications, including Dolce Vita and Cosmopolitan, have used the sculptures' bright, glimmering petals as inspiration for their couture editorials. The history of fine art and high fashion has been woven together over centuries, bound by a mutual core: their fascination with beauty.

Around the world, clothing has provided man with far more than warmth and protection. It has played a key part in religious ceremonies, rituals, and performances, leading to creations as varied as can be. The pigments we use in fine art today can trace their lineage to the dyes discovered to colour fabric!

Detail from Ana Tzarev's Shinosuke (Genji Monogatari).

One of the most striking examples of art and fashion bound together can be found in Asian history. Japan's elegant, incomparable kabuki theatre is celebrated for its fantastic garments; costumes define characters and are splendid to behold. The nation's tradition of artful attire has played a great role in the expressive style of their contemporary culture, which has set the standard for cutting-edge design.

One of the most famed fashion designers was hailed for her artful work and artful life. Coco Chanel was a revolutionary in the world of couture, defying the standards of her day and reinventing notions of popular styles with innovation and grace. She freed women from the grip of corsets, opening doors to a new universe of creative potential.

Style icon and fashion revolutionary Coco Chanel.

Chanel was an inspiration to me as a young, art-minded fashion designer. Her life and legacy taught me to never let the expectations of others stifle my ideas. As I traveled the world to study the art and style of so many regions, the spark to create grew brighter within me. My career in couture paved the way for what was to come - a unique, passionate, expressive, colourful, and all-absorbing life of beauty in art.

Artists and readers, inspiration can be found in the most surprising places. Never let fear or
convention prevent you from exploring your potential - within you lies the ability to transcend, reinvent, and change the world!

Love Alive in Art: Inspiration Takes Hold of the Artist's Slumbering Heart

Ana's Thought: "To create is to give birth to your Dream."

Though the waking world is ripe with ideas waiting to be harvested, there are few places so sweetly laden with inspiration as our dreams. Such wonders spring forth to enchant our sleeping souls! The limits of the day slip off easily, and we are left to explore the infinite fascinations of the unconscious realm. Dozens of my works are inspired by dreams - I even have a collection of works named Dreaming! From peaceful reverie to jarring night terror, creative spirits throughout the ages have found themselves frequent patrons of the mind's nightly theatre.

Detail from Indigenous art at Australia's Barramundi Rock.

Among the earliest-known artists to tell stories from dreams were the Indigenous peoples of Australia. Dreaming is a foundation of their culture - their creation story, from which many of their great traditions emerged, is known to the world as Dreamtime. During this sacred era, the universe took shape by the great Creator spirit's hand and the world they came to know was born. The mythical Dreamtime is present in their most widely recognized art forms: painting and engravings on rocks, their celebrated dot paintings, and with the music and dances of their songlines. To this day, Australian indigenous art remains a stirring blend of spirituality, dreams, and nature.

Detail from Magritte's Time Transfixed.

As the science of sleep and of dreams gained acclaim in the early 20th century, the world was changed - the art world being no exception! Taking cues from the emerging psychological studies of Freud and the rise of popular science, a number of truly original artists turned to the mythical mind to find their subjects. Breton, Magritte, Dali, and many others sought to match artistic prowess with visual intrigue, creating paintings and sculptures that echoed the fantastic kingdom of dreams. The movement, known to all time as Surrealism, had a profound impact on the culture of its day and on the direction of modern art as a whole.

Detail from Ana Tzarev's La Vie en Rose.

Despite centuries of deriving our ideas from dreams, the well of inspiration is of a depth beyond measure; we shall never be left dry. The art and science of dreaming is becoming more vivid with time, as organizations like the International Association for the Study of Dreams seek to explore both the creative and concrete sides of this universal phenomenon.
Even the most resourceful, innovative creators may sometimes find themselves at a loss of where to turn. Should the waking world become obscure to you, Artist, seek clarity in your dreams - they hold insight into your creative flow and show you how effortlessly your next masterpiece can be born!

Friday, 9 August 2013

Love Alive in Art: Artists as the Body's Cartographers

Ana's Thought: "Art that has beauty and energy can heal your body and your soul."
For centuries, healing and art have been intertwined, forces of energy that exist both within and beyond us. I have long held to the belief that the creation and enjoyment of art has the power to restore. Within my own life, I turn to painting as a salve for my ills. Art is the clear communicator between our bodies and our souls.

The human body is a fantastic creation in itself, undoubtedly the first subject of man's art and one of its most enduring. There are so many unique aspects of the physical body, twists and turns to be endlessly explored. It is separate but linked to the cerebral and spiritual, the realm from which the desire to create originates. These intersections played a great role in my Dreaming series, paintings in which figures test the boundaries of reality in their movements and positions.
Detail from Thomas Eakins' The Agnew Clinic.

As with all natural sciences, art has provided a lens of discovery through which understanding of health and medicine has grown. Through detailed studies of anatomy made by skilled draughtsmen, mankind gained insight into the workings of life. As scientists led explorations through the lovely universe hidden within us all, the artist's fascination grew with depicting the journey: Rembrandt and Thomas Eakins each created striking works from their observations of anatomy lessons, capturing the very moment that knowledge of the body was shared.

The great men whose works moved the world of medicine forward have been praised through the art of the ages. Countless artists from Rubens to Girodet have depicted Hippocrates, the Father of Western Medicine famed for his revolutionary philosophy of pathology. Albert Edelfelt painted a magnificent portrait of Louis Pasteur, whose invaluable efforts led to the reduction and eradication of several diseases. In creating such masterpieces, artists express their love and appreciation for flourishing innovation.

Detail from Damien Hirst's Anatomy of an Angel.

The art world's curiosity about the workings of the body persists to this day. Damien Hirst has incorporated anatomy into several sculptural works, from a towering, vibrant study of organ systems in bronze (Hymn) to the juncture of physical and spiritual, modern and classical (Anatomy of an Angel). Over thousands of years, our sense of wonder about the ways of the body has only grown - and as long as we find new questions to ask, our art will seek the answers!

Love Alive in Art: The Artist's Ardor Springs from Nature

Ana's Thought: "Let Nature, in her wisdom, be your teacher."
"I love humanity, which has been a constant delight to me during all my seventy-seven years of life; and I love flowers, trees, animals, and all the works of Nature as they pass before us in time and space. What a joy life is when you have made a close working partnership with Nature, helping her to produce for the benefit of mankind new forms, colors, and perfumes in flowers which were never known before..." - Luther Burbank

In my younger days, I savored each drop of my education - every lesson was a shining gift to be unwrapped, and my mind was eager to take them in. I still recall with such clarity the day my class learned about Luther Burbank, a pioneer of agriculture and a true reveler in Nature's glory. The stories of his experiments and great success, driven by fascination with the workings of the world, resonated deeply within me.
Vivid illustrations accompanied the lesson, dazzling us with a kingdom of flowers and fruits. It was in that moment I first discovered the bridge between Art and biology, instilling in me the belief that both fields work together to expand human understanding. The seeds of inspiration were planted in my heart, and as years passed I grew into the role of an artist guided by Nature. My body of work is a testament to the ceaseless wonders we find when Nature and Art come together.
Detail from John Constable's Malvern Hall in Warwickshire.

The pages of history gleam with examples of biology and Art becoming one. As recently highlighted by the Financial Times, the tradition of landscape painting transformed into scientific exercise in the 18th century. Figures like John Constable and Joseph Mallord William Turner came to understand that, within Art, Nature was far more essential than mere background for dramatic scenes - narratives could be found within shifting skies, wild seas, and eroding stones. By taking a closer look at their surroundings, these scientist-artists developed a depth of feeling in their work that had never been reached before.

Drawings of Darwin's famous finches

Visual Art communicates clearly when words may confound. Darwin's incredible discovery in the Galapagos Islands - the key that unlocked great secrets of evolution - was granted strength by the work of his crew's draughtsmen. The depictions of the species and locales they explored transported scholars and laymen alike into a new plane of understanding. Hooke's brilliant illustrations showed mystery unfolding in fine detail, with cells changing from invisible, uncertain objects to something far more tangible. When scientists wish to make their ideas concrete, they find their answers in Art.
Through the language of Art and a common love of natural beauty, all people can share the revelations of science. With your curiosity and your talent to guide you, what will be your legacy for our time?