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The Poet and the BirdsBy REBECA KUROPATWA
Russian-born Marc Chagall (1887-1985), known to most as an artist who created memory paintings, was a pioneer of modernism.  In fact, Pablo Picasso proclaimed that, after Matisse, “Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what colour really is.”


ChagallChagall’s early paintings reflect on his upbringing in Russia and his  having to leave there because of the Russian expulsion.  He first went to Paris, but later needed to leave there too, due to the lead up to World War II.
“This sense of displacement  Chagall feels throughout his life is reflected in his works, often featuring characters who hover over the earth...Even if they’re lying down, they’re sort of levitating,” said Andrew Kear, curator of historical Canadian art at the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG), overseeing the exhibition installation.
“There’s a sense of rootlessness to his work that’s quite interesting, and it’s reflected in his later work too.  By the 1940s - an important time for Chagall - he loses his first wife, his first love really, Bella, to cancer in/around 1944...and is absolutely distraught.”
The WAG brought in the Chagall: Daphnis & Chloé exhibit from the National Gallery of Canada (NGC). It will run at the WAG from May 28 to September 11.
This exhibit, the latest NGC@WAG collaboration, features 42 lithographs, widely considered the crowning achievement of the artist’s career as a printmaker.  The series depicts the semi-erotic tale of Daphnis and Chloé, written by the ancient Greek poet Longus.
Via fanciful compositions and bright hues, Chagall expresses the pastoral idylls of the young goatherd, Daphnis, and the young shepherdess, Chloé, on the island of Lesbos.
In addition to the NGC@WAG show, the Gallery will also put on a complementary mini-exhibit, called “Chagall & Winnipeg”, which tells the little-known tale of friendship that developed between Chagall and former WAG director, Dr. Ferdinand Eckhardt, through letters, photographs, and works of art.


Alongside the Chagall exhibits, the WAG will also have an exhibit on Esther Warkov, which will open to the public at the same time (as of May 28), but will run until October 16.Rolling home to MosesWarkov is one of Manitoba’s most distinctive living artists.  This exhibition will highlight a celebrated and defining period of her work, which was forged in Winnipeg’s North End.
Warkov’s stylized motifs reveal the clear influence of her eastern European immigrant community’s Jewish folk art roots.  Warkov’s compositions pay tribute to Chagall.
“Although abstract painting was the most common form of contemporary art in the 1960s and 1970s, Esther really bucked the trend,” said Kear.  “She was very interested in the human figure, representational drawing/painting, and in paintings that tried to convey a story.  It’s this kind of point where she really outlines nicely with Chagall.”  

For more information, visit www.wag.ca.

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