Art Fairs International Newspaper 2012
Margaretha Gubernale’s Narrative By Abraham Lubelski
Margaretha Gubernale, Phoenix. Courtesy of the artist.
Phoenix Margaretha Gubernale, The Life Cycle. Courtesy of the artist.
When looking at a painting, it is often difficult to discern the narrative that lies beneath. With Margaretha Gubernale’s paintings, however, this is not the case; it is easy to stand before her canvases and watch a story unfold before your eyes. Margaretha’s world is consumed with the romantic and the mystical, imbued with vivacious colors and wrought with emotion. Whilst discussing her painting style, Gubernale explained that she “pursues four elements [in all of her paintings]; the intellect as air, fire as self-confidence and will, water as feeling, and earth as material execution.” In looking at Gubernale’s painting, Phoenix, one is reminded of the character of Ophelia from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Though she is only revealed in small bursts throughout the play, it is her untimely and tragic demise that serves to portray her as not only the most memorable character, but also one with whom every audience member desires to sympathize. The deep maroon coloring that Gubernale uses as her foundation for Phoenix communicates a rich feeling of warmth and comfort but it is the female figure, at the edge of a cliff, reaching for the moon, that evokes an unyielding sensation of desperation and unrequited desire reminiscent of Ophelia. The unattainable moon acts as a spotlight, highlighting the curves of her body and contours of her longing, and yet it keeps its distance. The woman presented in this work epitomizes the feeling of impossible yearning; a sensation inseparable from the history of the human experience. Yet, what this mystical female form longs for is not the love of another person but of a celestial object, something—by definition, unearthly—so unattainable that it is impossible to even conceive of being fulfilled. Through this work Gubernale conveys the depths of human despair as a result of unfeasible love. Margaretha Gubernale's work comes out of a long tradition of Ro-
mantic painting in the Western world. One of her antecedents is the great American painter, Albert Pinkham Ryder, whose work captures the same remarkable qualities in both the treatment of paint and the emotion that is evoked through romantic and hermetic renderings of the surrounding world. Like Ryder, Gubernale exposes her light sources in her works—most often as sun or moon—as radiating with luminescence. Though Gubernale’s palate is often more varied and vibrant than Ryder’s solemn hues, the overwhelming sense of nature-worship is present. The Siren, another work by Gubernale, depicts two people, looking in different directions, atop a body of water in the middle of the night. The work, permeated by a dark royal blue, evokes an uneasy serenity; like the way one might feel in an empty field or expanse of water in the middle of the night. It is soothing, peaceful and yet it is the darkness that hides the very things that have to propensity to cause harm. The two figures, lit by the moon and painted in all white, seem to be imploring both the sea and sky for help and love, in what appears to be a midnight journey. This painting, much like The Phoenix, seem to express a feeling of longing and searching for something beyond reach. It is this sensation—that of unfulfilled desire—that seems to infiltrate the entirety of Gubernale’s body of work. Margaretha Gubernale’s paintings transport the viewer into an alternate universe due to her love of fantasy, story-telling, and poetry. Her especially beautiful use of mythical creatures takes the viewer to places one hears tales of but never before dared to visit in their imagination. All of the paintings are set in a vibrant and mysterious fantastical world and depict mystical figures in a way where the painting tells a story on its own, a story so well rendered and communicated through her airy brushstrokes, that it doesn’t need to be vocalized to be understood.*
I let char my dreary soul of raven and put on a peacock feather. This I stripped off, because without the light their colours died . So I borrowed a pen of swan and to the light I fly with her
Margaretha Gubernale, The Siren. Courtesy of the artist.
The Siren Together with my sister I played on a rock surrounded by water. We sang a song of feelings. Than people with dark and selfish sense passed with their ships and imitated our childlike singing. Soon they died by this sound corrupt of them.
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