Kabuki is a Japanese art form of stylized play performances where actors wear elaborate costumes and tell a story in terms of elaborate poses and dances while they are accompanied by song, choir and traditional Japanese instruments. The performances tend to be emotionally subtle and understated but all the nuances of the performance and the accompanying music weave a complete story. The viewer is slowly enticed while unknowingly entering a trance of the unfolding drama.
This effect is also accomplished by Ana Tzarev’s exhibition titled: “Legends of the Japanese Kabuki Stage.” This collection of over fifty paintings captures the essence of Kabuki through poses, facial expressions, costumes’ of famous Japanese Kabuki performing legends, such as Honcho Nijushiko, Hara Kobunji, Ichimura Uzaemon.
Though the artist captures one frame of a Kabuki performance the inference speaks volumes as the towering images of the six to eight feet interact with the viewer. The painter’s images are vivid, the colors masterfully chosen as thick lines on faces give actors their camouflage and original glory, as the story interpretation is brought forth to the audience. This theme of the Kabuki Theatre lends itself well to the artist’s style and mindset. Ana Tzarev appropriately glorifies tradition, the artistry (in this case) of actors and ultimately life itself. The paintings speak: “Look at me I have struggled to be someone; I am vulnerable, trying to bring forth elements of the human experience we hold dear”. If you hear a Kabuki painting speak in these terms the artist has communicated the essence of Kabuki theatre.
Ana Tzarev feels comfortable with this ancient tradition dating back to 1603. She has extensively studied Japanese culture and Kabuki dramatics in particular, and has spent much time in Japan. Ana Tzarev is comfortable in taking on themes from other cultures because her spirit is linked to the core of what we call the essentials of the human experience, Kabuki Theatre being one of them. The exhibition is taking place through May 5th at the artist’s gallery, 24W 57th St in NYC (See AnaTzarev.com for more information), reward the dramatist in you!