Dedicated to covering the visual arts community in Connecticut.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Opening tonight at Hygienic Art Gallery in New London

Hygienic Art Gallery
83 Bank St., P.O. Box 417, New London, (860) 443-8001
Universal Memory
Oct. 18—Nov. 15, 2008
Opening reception: Sat., Oct. 18, 7—10 p.m.

Press release

The Hygienic Art Galleries is proud to present the exhibition Universal Memory featuring the fantastic and surrealist paintings of Czech Republic artist/sculptor Boris Jirku, Prague, CZ. painter and actor Katia Jirankova Levanti and Hygienic Co-op resident artist Troy Zaushny. The paintings and prints are inspired by the life experiences and memories of the artists and their visual interpretations in oils, acrylic mediums and multi-layered prints.

There will be an opening reception tonight, Sat. Oct. 18,. 7—10 pm. Refreshments will be served and music will be provided by Supercool, a three piece band, led by Daniel Levanti and musicians from Nashville. Together they have performed in clubs and cafes throughout Europe.

Visiting from Prague, Boris Jirku will be holding painting workshops performing his art making techniques and creating "art of the moment" for local artists and interested patrons on Wed., Oct. 22 and Wed., Nov. 5, at 7 p.m. in the Salon des Independents Gallery at Hygienic Art, 79 Bank Street New London.

Katia Jirankova Levanti •
A Czech artist now residing between Waterford and Praque, was born to a Russian mother and Czech father. Her childhood was marked by flights to Moscow to visit her maternal grandmother, a famous actress from Stanislavsky's legendary theater. Though they were cautious not to flaunt their Russian in public, her and her mother, Lena, always felt most at home in their mother tongue. But in Prague the atmosphere was icy. Vaclav Havel was still musing a long way from his presidency of the 90's, and Katia's father's artistic genius was gaining him no friends in the communist ranks. He was a political, satirical cartoonist who was more than once prohibited from working and forced to live off the small income of Lena's translations alone. Some of the most progressive minds in the country would congregate in Katia's childhood home, well aware of the bugs planted in the walls by the secret police, and aware of a privacy relegated solely to thoughts expressed below a whisper amongst themselves, or through the most cunning means (Such as through children's cartoons, which her father also became famous for). These comrades would later become Havel's minister of foreign affairs, another the prime minister, and her father was honored by the president himself as a foremost prominent figure of Czech culture. These were the environs which molded Katia's artistic ambitions and memories. She studied Philosophy and linguistics at Prague's Charles University and Universita per Stranieri, Perugia, Italy and later with the great Boris Jirku, then Professor at the Praque's prestigious Art Conservatory. The meditative, trance-like state from which her work comes is the birth ground of epiphany itself and Katia brings forth her visions of a world even more secretive and unknown than those magical streets of her Prague childhood.

In creating the exhibition, Katia was asked by Hygienic Art to select the most inspiring artist from the Czech Republic. Her choice, Boris Jirku was asked and accepted Hygienic Art's offer to exhibit his works with his fellow colleague. With generous funding from the Griffis Foundation for the transportation of Jirku and his artwork, this local and international art exhibition became a reality.

Boris Jirku constantly engages in drawing, painting, illustration, graphics and sculpture. He shows his works both home and abroad and participated on many corporate exhibitions around the world. His works also reflects memories and experiences of his life and artistry being oppressed by the communist led government. In 1982 he is held in solitary confinement in a small studio in Prague. There he was inspired to illustrate the writings of Gabriel Garcia Márquez. In 1984 Márquez is awarded Nobel Prize for literature. The Odeon publishing house commissioned Boris Jirku to illustrate Márquez's Chronicle of a Death Foretold in short reprieve (the commission was based on Jirku's previous drawings of the novel in the Svetová literature [World Literature] revue). For this artwork, Jirku was awarded first place in the competition for the year's most beautiful book in CSSR. In 1990 he again won the award for most beautiful book in CSSR for Mikhail Bulgakov's Master and Margarita. The illustrations (together with those of Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude) are today archived in the National Literature Memorial in Prague.

Boris Jirku teaches figure drawing at VSUP. He founded and leads public figure drawing instruction and figure drawing workshops for Palacky University in Olomouc, West Bohemian University in Plzen, College of Restoring Techniques in Litomysl, Masaryk University in Brno and Fachhochschule Mainz. He holds FIGURAMA exhibitions of works of students and educators from nine European universities in galleries and college areas in Leipzig, Znojmo, Brno, Prague, Vienna, Mainz, and Plzen.

Jirku was elected as Chairman of the Academic Senate of the University of Applied Arts in Prague and in 2002 was awarded prizes in the Czech Republic Print of the Year Competition and elevated to master professor of illustration and graphics by Czech Republic President Václav Havel.

Troy Zaushny, one of Hygienic Art Cooperative's newest resident artists, is a professional career artist. Born and raised in rural Connecticut, his initial inclination to art was sparked by album cover art, posters and apocalyptic imagery found in religious propaganda. From his youth Troy chose subject matter from nature—animals primarily—rendering them sometimes photo-realistically, and other times abstracting them into something altogether fantastical. Attending the University of Connecticut, Troy turned his focus towards printmaking, a method he was introduced to in high school, through silk-screening t-shirts. It was the multi-layered approach to image making that drew him to printmaking. At that time, Troy gained and maintained appreciation for artists such as Albrecht Durer, Henri Rousseau, Michelangelo and Jean-Michel Basquiat, though his muse for his own personal imagery came from some thing less conventional.

As a boy, Troy discovered that certain sounds—the babbling of a brook, the drone of bees, or the electrical hum of a transformer—had a transcendental effect on him. In short, those sounds not only gave him an expanded, multi-sensory perception of the world as he knew it, but also extended his visual imagination beyond what he perceived it to be. Troy's attempt to communicate these experiences has been the driving force behind his art works for the past twenty years. During this time he has honed his skill and, more importantly, his process. His technique matches the depth of layers of his imagination so that, finally, the artist seems comfortable with his stride.

In Universal Memory Troy has compiled a body of work that, taken as a whole, well exemplifies the evolution of his creative vision and process. In its assembly he has managed to create, in a fashion, his own retrospective. From early wood and lino-cuts (reflections and interpretations of, then, unexplained imaginings) to his latest realized poly-frescoes, Troy has come full circle, moving from surreal abstracted imagery to more physically realistic natural subject matter; gentle reminders from an older and wiser artist of experiences common to us all, born in the quiet stillness of a natural setting, when we allow ourselves the connection to our individual and collected inspirations.


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