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About Juri Zurkans painting

As a rule painters do not lose many words about their works, but they would presumably have otherwise become writers.
Their expression is the paint, the composition of space, the light, the human body with its varied gestures, they all play features of the face. Juri Zurkan is such a painter of this tranquillity and he loves the early Renaissance: Fra Angelico, Piero della Francesca, Sandro Botticelli and Andrea Mantegna. The Italian painters of the 14th century escaped from the medieval load of the pictures and discovered the freshness spilled with carefree heritage of antiquity. Thereby they discharged their works of substantive overloading. Now the meaning lay stronger in the reproduction of life itself, as well as it being delivered in the paintings with antique treatises. The imitation of life was the first aim of the paintings, and the more deceiving these succeeded, the more perfect was the piece of art. In this connection stands the famous legend of both rival Greek painters Zeuxis and Parrhasius: Zeuxis painted in the competition with Parrhasius so lifelike grapes that birds flew by to peck at them. As a result Parrhasius introduced a painting on which a linen curtain was to be seen. When Zeuxis asked impatiently to push this aside, to consider the picture located putatively behind it, Parrhasius finally, had the certain victory, because he had deceived Zeuxis. The curtain was painted. (Plinius, Nat. Hist. XXXV, 64)
With the Mimesis as an imitation of nature it is a matter of translating the world of the visible phenomena on the surface of the picture namely so skilful that the picture becomes a representation of life itself. Before half a millennium the cataclysmic renewal existed in the waiver from symbolic Meta levels. Now the phenomena of nature, is painted around itself for the sake of it. The clouds in the sky, the birds, the trees, all set pieces of everyday life and people together with the objects which they love. Of course the painter is still the contractor who has to comply to the wishes of the principal, but it is first and foremost about his perception of the world surrounding him.
By the art of mimetic imitation he takes care of empathy out of the life of this world which he translates into his works. In addition, Mimesis as an aesthetic foundation is related strongly to the art form of the theatre, where in the role play the human old conflicts are acted out. Indeed many of Juri Zurkans figures are like figures on a stage. Town sceneries appear like scenery from mythical prehistoric times. The light shines in all variations from delicate pink, lemon, light blue, orange to reddish. It lends a strong visionary character to the pictures. The figures are predominantly passive. In itself dormant, which in consideration of an object submerges deeply or in the reading of a book they look relaxed and concentrated at the same time. Every now and then they hold bowls with fruits like offering balancing on the palms of their hands. The play of features of the human faces is often pensive and knowing. The fall of folds indicate the movements of the body and betrays somewhat of the titillating dynamics of its character. Fragile they move by old walls, listen to dialogues carefully, - or look in the distance. Like tightrope walkers without nets, they move with somnambulistic security through the rooms which have nothing to do with our century at all.
Recurring details like a cocktail glass, flowers, potted ornamental shrubs, single fruits, scattered pearls or sounds without strings lend a still life-like basic mood to the sceneries. The sounds without strings have in their muteness a melancholy tonic. Though the resonance body is there, without strings he can bring no sound of melody. Thus the instrument remains lying pointlessly as a sort of antique clutter in the picture.
The lute is also the instrument which one finds on old posters in connection with the presentation of sibyls. These were visionaries in ancient Greece who, intoxicated by essential oils and other means, fell into a trance-like state, puzzling around oracles predicting the future. They were considered as muses Apollos, the God of the prophecy and the arts, which is why, among the rest, the book and the sounds became their attributes.
In these strange figures breathes knowledge of the dangers of life which has got lost in the contemporaries from today. Besides, it concerns not only the human beings who walk towards us, as like from a distant epoch but also animals like cats or birds of paradise, with a very wide pheasant plumage. Every now and then angels appear in the scenery, probably to influence the events favourable.
The figures are in the harmony with her actions, with the rooms in which they move, and with the nature. And although they are not freely from internal tensions and the look speaks in the distance of longing and grief, nevertheless, a cosmic security always flashes warmth through the events. No healthy world, but at least one world, where healing is possible.
The feeling of Modern Art, determined by the rupture between inner life and outside world, the estrangement walking along with it and mental alienation, all this is not perceptible in Juri Zurkans pictures. Aesthetics and composition, colour and sign language of the figures remind us of a strength which is also effective in the paintings of old masters. This quiet and dedication, the restrained melancholy and the slow rhythm which determines the atmosphere of the pictures has got lost in our fast-moving and loud time. Therefore, maybe the painters who can still open such rooms to us, are so rare.

Sanna Boswirth

© Sanna Böswirth