Finally this afternoon, I visited the 14,000 square foot glass and marble space, which was designed by James Harb and occupies the first and second floors of the New York Gallery Building. Not a single detail has been left to chance; Ms. Tzarev's publications and paintings are tastefully displayed in the gallery. You have to be present to get a sense of the extraordinary colors and textures in Ana's World of Flowers, which opened June 24th and continues through August 8th. In particular, I liked Priceless, an oil on linen whose red roses glow; Red Silk for the same reason; Vincent's Flowers; and Loveliness. The works sell from $150,000 - $250,000; however, giclées of some of the flower paintings can be purchased for $250.
So who is Ana Tzarev? She was born in Croatia in 1937 and grew up in Australia and New Zealand. According to a New York Observer article, Ms. Tzarev started out as a dressmaker, but made her money with husband Robert Chandler by founding a successful New Zealand luxury department-store chain called Chandler House, where she designed the store's apparel. After getting out of the business and giving the money to their sons, the couple moved to Monaco and Thailand. Justin Warner, a Sales Associate at the gallery, told me that Ms. Tzarev currently divides her time between Phuket, Thailand, and Monaco, where she paints daily in her studio there, taking inspiration from the flowers in her garden. In fact, she wanted to be a gardener, and has said that "flowers are the standard by which I judge all other beauty and the inspiration for the pure color I use in my work." Influenced by Post-Impressionist and Modern artists such as van Gogh and Matisse, Ms. Tzarev combines an impasto style with bold color choices. Some flowers and even individual petals look as though an entire tube of paint was used. The paintings almost appear to be three-dimensional sculptures.
Ms. Tzarev's extensive travels throughout Africa, Asia, and Hawaii provided material for subject matter that moved beyond the realm of flowers and incorporated the human world of emotion. One of her books, Through Ana's Eyes, contains paintings of a range of subjects that include Japanese lovers, portraits of African, South American, and Hawaiian women, dancing Indian gods, and haunting depictions of “dispossessed” and “displaced” people. Mr. Warner told me that the next show will feature paintings of people - I hope it includes some of these earlier works.
Some people have criticized Ana Tzarev’s bold entree into the New York art world and her choice to take what might appear to be a vanity publication style approach to promoting her art and books. I must confess that I initially had similar thoughts; however, I was proven wrong in a quietly graceful way. Not content to rest despite her good fortune, Ms. Tzarev continues to create inspired art, and is involved in humanitarian missions such as the Washington DC and Brussels-based Search for Common Ground.