This holiday season, we’re excited to introduce Pomegranate, a publishing and printing company that offers its customers “art you can bring home.” In celebration of Pomegranate’s commitment to inclusivity, we’re excited to spotlight some of the brilliant women artists in their catalogue. Read more about Pomegranate below.
While artists experiment with new forms and create by their very nature, not many artists invent new methods of printmaking. Anelia Pavlov (Annael), a Bulgarian-born Australian artist, saw a need and decided to devise her own technique to add colors into intaglio (the family of printmaking techniques in which the image is incised into a surface and the incised line or sunken area holds the ink).
Annael’s prints evoke a number of traditions from aboriginal legends and Eastern Orthodox icons to Renaissance art and the paintings of the Old Dutch Masters. She draws on classical music in her work and seeks inspiration in nature.
And that’s not all. In addition to printmaking, Annael is also a painter, poet, children’s book writer, illustrator, and ceramicist.
ES: How did you get interested in the arts? Was it something you knew you wanted to do as a child or did you come to it later in life?
Annael: Ever since [I was a] child, I have always been drawing and I also made a “book” when I was 8 years old, where I had stitched together pages and made drawings as illustrations to my first poems at that time. When in school, the last pages of my notebooks were always filled with drawings. I would also write poetry, sporadically. Yes, all of my life, since I remember myself, I was painting and drawing, and I knew I would be an artist.
Thus, when I grew up, I graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Sofia (Bulgaria) with a Master’s Degree in Illustration and Book Design. It happened that my lecturer in illustration was one of the best, if not the best Bulgarian printmaker at the time. As a result, under his influence, I became an excellent printmaker in the areas of intaglio (etching, aquatint, mezzotint, etc.) as well as lithography.
My first works were strongly influenced by “the language” of my lecturer, but at the same time, I was very strongly influenced by the art of the Old Dutch Masters and the Italian Renaissance painters. I found printmaking to be a very restrictive art form because it is very much constrained by the technology used, i.e. your print embodies your thinking and ideas, your skills as an artist, but also your mastery of various printmaking techniques: etching, how you lay the inks, how you print.
Indeed, I have always wanted to make colours, and this led me in 1985, after numerous experiments, to finally achieve an innovative and unique technique through which I found a way to make colours in the intaglio (engraving) process.
In principle, bright colours in printmaking are very difficult to achieve, except manually or with lithography. A friend and colleague of mine from Texas – Kathy Brimberry (co-founder and owner of Flatbed Press in Austin) – who is also a lecturer in printmaking, pointed out to me later on that my technique is very similar to the “a la poupee” technique of the Old 16th Century French Engravers. However, the technique I created was different in its approach and execution.
A decade or so later, I turned to oil painting and more and more left the printmaking activities to live in my past.
ES: Could you talk about your process of creating visual work with classical music?
Annael: A number of people have asked me in the past about the connection of music with my paintings. To explain the deep relation between music and visual art in my work is not as simple as it may seem: it is almost like trying to explain a musical piece – one can say, “the composer expresses this and this,” but such a description is not enough, it does not take one through the experience one has when listening to the music.
Because – from a certain point of view – music is a very abstract form of expression. If someone says they create visual art using particular music or even music in general, people immediately expect to see a similar form of expression: an abstract painting.
However, when confronted by more figurative paintings – which have a concrete, recognizable image that can be understood and is susceptible to being explained – it becomes very easy to ask and wonder where the music is.
While abstraction is a very important element of my art, and I use it in various ways, it is placed in a wider context to create a fuller musical relation, just as composers like Shostakovich, Messiaen, Weinberg and Wyschnegradsky use atonal and serial techniques in the context of a grander whole.
Therefore, if one wanted to “see” the musical connection in my art, one should look for it inwardly, at the level of ideas: the ideas that inspire a composer and are expressed in the music are the same ideas that inspire my paintings individually and are present in them. They reveal themselves externally in the harmony, the forms, colours, images etc., but one cannot say “this melody corresponds precisely to that blue form over there, and this rhythm precisely to the lines over here.” The music’s ideas are woven throughout the whole of its corresponding painting in a symbiotic synthesis – a synthesis of the idea, music and art.
ES: What was the inspiration behind the Zodiac Series that became a Pomegranate calendar?
Annael: The Zodiac Series started as a collection of paintings called “Garden of Virtues.” These are 12 works that are all small in size and resemble portraits – portraits of the virtues. My initial aim when creating these portraits was not to create paintings related to the zodiac. In fact, I simply set out to paint the virtues as best as I could. During the course of my work, I discovered that portraying a virtue in all its purity is not an easy task!
It was not until I had completed a number of these portraits that I suddenly realized – discovering for myself! – that in reality, I had painted the portraits, not of the virtues alone, but of the different signs of the zodiac; and like small puzzles, the virtues shine through the faces of the zodiac signs.
The novelty of these zodiac “signs” is that they all are depicted in human form (not in animal form as it is customary to present them).
The Zodiac Series was created using the music of various composers from different eras, ranging from Pierre de la Rue’s Renaissance masses (Virgo and Scorpio) and Johann Joseph Fux’s sacred Baroque works (Aries), to the late Romantic songs of Nikolai Medtner (Cancer), the cello concertos of Paul Hindemith (Taurus) and the postmodern quarter-tone compositions of Ivan Wyschnegradsky (Libra).
ES: How did you get involved with Pomegranate?
Annael: I must admit I saw my calendar for the first time on Amazon. I think Pomegranate must have obtained the rights to publish the images from Bridgeman Images (whom I work with).
Interestingly enough, I had previously found the name of Pomegranate independently – before the calendar was printed – as I was looking for a publishing house where I could offer some of my children’s stories.
ES: Thank you to Annael for discussing your work – via email – with FF2!
Anelia Pavlova’s 2022 Zodiac Wall Calendar is available for purchase on Pomegranate.com. Check it out here!
Remember, the artist receives a greater portion of the proceeds if you buy directly from Pomegranate.
© Elisa Shoenberger (12/13/21) Special for FF2 Media®
To learn more, visit Annael’s beautifully designed & very comprehensive website.
Annael also has notecards available on Pomegranate under the name Anelia Pavlov.
CREDITS & PERMISSIONS
Images from Pomegranate’s 2022 Anelia Pavlov Zodiac calendar have been provided by Pomegranate and are used here by FF2 Media with their permission. All Rights Reserved by Pomegranate.