In The Press

Art Business News - Arpil 2002

"Venice's Romance Charms Artists & Collectors"

by: Audrey S. Chapman, Contributing Editor

Excerpt from the article: "Venice's Romance Charms Artists & Collectors"

Talk to artists all over the world, and they gush about Venice - a city some say they wanted to paint before they even traveled there. Whether they talk about the architecture, the colors, the water or the city's winding, narrow streets, the reaction is always the same: utter awe.

"Oh my gosh, it's just beautiful," said painter Alex Krajewski, a watercolorist who has channeled his detailed, colorful work into a Venetian series. "I've almost never seen anything so beautiful as Venice. The colors and the reflection of the water are just breathtaking. It's something that doesn't appear anywhere else in the world."

"You have the canals with still water that acts as a mirror, and you see a very clear reflection of anything that is there, whether it's a bridge or a building," said Bob Pejman, a romantic realist whose style is influenced by artists such as Sir Alma-Tadema and Thomas Cole.

"You have a combination of classical architecture reflecting in the water with gondolas and other boats traveling through them," added Pejman. There are no roads, no cars, nobody drives. The only way to get around is by walking or by gondola. There's a romantic sense to it. I's almost like a movie set."

The magic that lures artists to both visit and paint the city and people to yearn for art that depicts it is both real and imagined. Haeffele, whose regional landscapes emphasize both color and light, is particularly drawn to the city's architecture. "In Venice, you find some of the most stunning architecture in the world," she said. "The incredible combination of the buildings and the water makes for an interesting [marriage] of line and fluidity and light."

But Pejman said it's the geography of the city - the way it's laid out, the way the canals wind into oblivion, the way the buildings line up here and there - that pushes him to fill in the missing part of the picture with his mind. "On Fifth Avenue in New York, everything is neat and organized and arranged in straight lines," Pejman explained. "There are no straight lines in Venice, Every canal twists and bends, And every building has a different angle. There's a sense of mystery. You wonder what is beyond the bridge, where the twisting and bending is going. I you go down the canal," he asked, "where are you going to end up?"

But the water affects the city in a unique way, as well. The rise and fall of the tide around the buildings, as well as the fact that the city's architecture has been neglected, gives the city character some can't resist."'The fact that the city hasn't been kept up adds to the romantic quality of it," Pejman said. "You see stucco peeling off the buildings, exposed brick. You can almost see the passage of time, which makes I more interesting to paint."

This neglect often pushes Pejman to create a picture that's there and isn't there - all at the same time. "I don't paint scenes exactly how I see them," he said. "I try to enhance the romantic side of them. For example, if I'm painting Venice and there are signs on the walls that indicate contemporary life, I remove them and enhance the romantic side. I there's a balcony with flowers, I make the balcony overflow with flowers. I exaggerate. It's almost like I travel into the psyche of people, asking them [to describe] the most romantic place they'd want to be in Venice. Then I picture that and execute it." And what has he found?" "People don't remember the graffiti," he said. " They remember the gondola."

Kim Smith, gallery director of Sargents Fine Art in Maui, Hawaii, which carries Pejman's work, said that while only half of the people who buy pieces of art revolving around the city of Venice have actually been there, and those who have been there appreciate his additions. "One thing people will say when they look at his work is, 'We don't remember it being that beautiful,' she said. "But that is one of the gifts of an artist. He can paint it as he would like to see it." But at the same time, she added, "Bob's style is very unique and makes you feel like you're there. It's like a window into a beautiful world."

Why do people yearn for pieces of art that depict Venice" Ask these artist, and the themes of romance and time gone by repeatedly come up. "I think it's a yearning to connection to a more ancient time," Haeffele said. Pejman agreed, "One minute a gondola with two lovers is going down the canal, and a minute later, it's not here and something else is taking place," he said. "It could be happening today, or it could have happened 100 years ago."