Graphite Passions

Graphite Passions of Anna VanMatre

Nowy Dziennik, April 19, 2004

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The works of Anna VanMatre can be described as geo-physical. It is because the artist seems to be fascinated with two phenomena – concentration of matter and reaching inside of it. Anna presents the whirling of matter mostly on large-scale surfaces. However, in her smaller pieces, almost with a scientific curiosity, she peeks inside the painting through overlying layers of paper, as if she were searching for a concealed mystery.

Anna paints the majority of her artworks with graphite, spreading it with various tools, including brushes, over special synthetic paper. Until just recently, the provider of her plastic-coated paper was a very famous Paper Mill in Jeziorna near Warsaw.

Anna VanMatre developed a personal and unique style that is characterized by remarkable technique as well as composition. The paintings, usually of gigantic sizes (often reaching 12 feet) are created on a huge plexiglass panel that lies on the floor in Anna’s studio. The artist often needs to perform almost acrobatic stunts in order to reach some parts of her paintings. However, because they are made on paper, the artworks bring on a practical advantage – they are easy to roll, which becomes a significant plus when transporting.

Anna VanMatre’s paintings are mainly black and white with only hints of pastel color appearing in selected areas, which creates specific drama in the contrast between the color and the blackness of graphite. The artist clearly respects symmetry and she often creates three-dimensional structures with her paintings. The hours before noon is the time when Anna’s creative passion expresses itself most intensively – it is the time when her studio gets the perfect lighting, peace and atmosphere. The ambience is often complemented by the music Anna plays on the stereo in her studio. “When I work, I especially like to listen to Beethoven, Mozart, Liszt, and Chopin, and of course jazz,” – says the artist – I believe that there is a unique relationship between my work and the music.”

The relationship between Anna’s artistic soul and the music is inevitable in her house because her husband, Rick VanMatre, is a well know known musician – a jazz saxophonist. “When he plays saxophone, clarinet or flute, Rick’s music permeates the walls of our house into my art studio and that without a doubt inspires my new creations,” says Anna.

Certain cycles of her artworks, Metamorphosis-Water and Metamorphosis-Fire (created between1998 and 2003), were particularly influenced by music. During that time, Anna was fascinated with a famous piece by Krzysztof Penderecki entitled Metamorphosis. These cycles were presented during the great composer’s concerts at Music Hall in Cincinnati in 1999, and later in 2001 and 2004 at Gallery@49 in New York City.

Some of her artworks Anna makes by stratifying ripped layers of paper into intriguing collages. Between the years of 1998 and 2003, Anna VanMatre created two dramatic series of collages entitled Beyond the Earth Curtains and NO, which were her reaction to the events of September 11, 2001. Both series were shown at Manhattan’s Gallery@49.

For nearly 8 years now, Anna has been living and creating in Cincinnati, Ohio, a city which has been named by the American media as “one of the 10 cities in the U.S. that offers its residents especially attractive conditions of a metropolitan life.” For the artists working in Cincinnati, this means a hospitable and creative atmosphere as well as a receptive audience – a public that values art and is open to its various means of expression.

Anna Socha VanMatre grew up in Krakow, Poland where she graduated from a Fine Arts High school. She received her higher education and a Masters Degree from the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, studying in Professor Halina Chrostowska and Professor Zbigniew Gostomski’s studios. During her college years, she became renowned for her great talent, and one of her professors predicted, “Anna, your artworks will become collections in the best museums.” Anna VanMatre has presented her art internationally in many countries, including Poland, Israel, Germany, Morocco, Sweden, Denmark, and the U.S.A.. Many of Anna’s paintings can be found in private collections all over the world.

Jerzy Barankiewicz