As an artist, I often am asked "why?" "Why paint; why sculpt?" "Why share your work with others?" "Why spend those hours alone, in front of a canvas?" "Why create anything at all?"
"Why?" It is a question that others always ask of us, and that, as artists, we continually ask of ourselves. Words are a good place to begin, but so much gets lost the moment we begin to write or speak. This is why I paint. Many of the answers come out there, on canvas, or in the curve of a sculpture. But just as often, they come from unexpected places and moments.
Recently, I received a personal email from Sherrill Kazan, who has been President of World Council for Peoples for the United Nations for nearly 20 years. One of my flower sculptures has been on display in New York, in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza - the "gateway to the United Nations" - since mid-October of 2013. In her letter, Sherrill wrote about the families and schoolchildren she had seen taking photos, smiling and posing with my sculpture. How they had continued to do so even as the harsh winter arrived, bundling up and standing in the snow. My sculpture, she kindly wrote, "represented the international language of Love & Peace."
Ana Tzarev's Love (2013, fiberglass) in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, New York City
Art is so profoundly universal - one does not have to know Italian to be overwhelmed by Botticelli's "Primavera" - while remaining powerfully individual. This is why people of all ages, of all nationalities and faiths, can stand next to a sculpture and smile. Last week, one of my paintings, Love Songs, won the Arts and Culture Award from the Monaco-Japon Association. It was an honour to be recognized in such a way, especially from such an organisation - one that promotes understanding between East and West, one that brings people together to promote understanding. I try to do the same with my art: bring people together, to help them see what unites us, and to remind them of the beauty in the world we all share.
Ana Tzarev, Love Songs, 1999, oil on linen, 65 x 81 cm
I have as many answers to "why?" as there are spring blossoms in Japan, as many reasons as there are people who walk by Dag Hammarskjold Plaza on an autumn day.
It is in the personal stories like the ones Sherrill shared with me, the ones that tell how my art helped people come together and smile, or in the ability to work with and be recognised by an organisation working to create tolerance and understanding - it is in these moments that the "why," even if it is only for a moment, becomes so clear.