Micheal Zarowsky seems to have a line of vision that is altogether novel and intriguing. He sees some fragment of a far larger landscape and he takes this element, turns it a little, plays with the colors, and creates a painting that is highly appealing blend of Impressionism and realism.
Thus there is a grand landscape of cedar trees along a meandering sunlit river. This artist pierces this scene like a hungry accipiter, and in a moment the view becomes a great cedar root rising above a small pool of water. On the one side there is a clump of marsh marigolds, and on the other side sticks and reeds form a complex tangle Micheal sees all this but he elects to show us a small part of the water’s surface with a few leaves floating there, the broken reflection of the root, the yellow flowers and the reeds, and a veiled glimpse of the stones and ridges on the bottom of the pool.
The effect is startling because it is extraordinarily evocative of an Ontario landscape. We have seen all this intricate microcosm a thousand times, but it may never have occurred to us how much it is an essential part of the more familiar whole. We might wish that Micheal would stay at home in Grey County, or in Georgian Bay, or Muskoka, because we have an abundance of subject matter to offer him here. Even so, he has recently traveled to Nova Scotia where, to the surprise of no one at all, he has discovered dories and dinghies, great barnacle-encrusted posts, rocks, fish houses and salt ponds. And, of course, the result has been a whole new series of paintings in which we see the surfaces, lines, volumes and masses of colour that make us think of the sea and of the people who live there. Once again the work tends to be suggestive, allusive, and yet unmistakably of Nova Scotia, and by Micheal Zarowsky. It is a remarkable achievement.
This artist has an uncanny ability to isolate the essence of a landscape, and then illuminate the small part of the whole, which becomes the very symbol of that which it represents. That, of course, is what abstraction is all about; but the genius of Micheal Zarowsky is that he presents the effect of abstraction while he is actually painting in a realistic way some isolated element that signifies, with utmost economy, the wider scene.
Anyway, we may rejoice that Micheal has returned from Nova Scotia and is once again finding river banks crowded with irises, and transparent pools, and fallen ironwood branches. And, as you will see, he has come upon our old Ontario bridges with their massive cement piers and their peculiar tendency to do altogether Mayan things with sunlight and shadow.
In fact this probably presages some future trip in which Micheal will actually see Chichen Itza and Tulum with his own eyes. One thing, however, is certain; he will not render the whole temple. He will take the iguana’s eye view of one small face of wall, and he make us understand that the ruins of the Yucatan are every bit as appealing as are the bridges of the Saugeen River.
Ian Andrew Malcolm