Andrea Kowch – I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers

27 Oct

October is nearing its end. One more beautiful October leaving us slowly, leaf by leaf, sunset by sunset, until November replaces it in the calendar. November will turn the dazzling October’s glowing leaf carpets of orange and gold in parks and woods into a gloomy mass of rotting brown leaves, and even the pink sunsets will turn an ominous shade. But while the wonderful October – a time of witches, ghosts, pumpkins, ravens, haunted castles is still here, I will be so self-indulgent and take a moment to celebrate it with a few beautiful magic realism paintings by a contemporary artist Andrea Kowch.

Andrea Kowch, Soiree, 2019

Love of the countryside is something that connects the paintings of Andrea Kowch and the literary character of Anne Shirley Cutberth, the chatty red-haired freckled orphan heroine of L. M. Montgomery’s novel “Anne of Green Gables”; the first of the series of novels about Anne. There’s a slight difference though; Anne’s idyllic sunny Avonlea is transformed, through Anne’s vivid imagination, to an almost fairy tale place, whimsical, innocent and full of wonders to be discovered, with weeping willows, a shining lake, dreamy ethereal apple blossoms white as the bride’s attire on her wedding day, golden birches, meadows and woods, whereas the countryside world in Kowch’s paintings is always tinged with mystery and eerie foreboding, there are secrets and tales yet to unravel hidden behind the static frozen moments captured in her paintings. Imagination is what connected these different visions of the countryside life and scenery. Kowch’s paintings are painted realistically, but have a dreamlike quality and that’s something I adore. Space and figures in her artworks are painted in a detailed, precise way and every motif is carefully planned to symbolise something and combined all together the story is woven. In the artists own words: “There’s a subtle tension that I like to create in my work, that leaves things open to interpretation, for viewers to attribute their own unique experiences to it. (…) Each image is a story that I just want people to delve into.“(*)

My appreciation of Kowch’s paintings definitely doesn’t stop at their aesthetically pleasing nature, their physical beauty which comes from colours and compositions that appeal to my eyes, no, the appreciation goes way deeper when it comes to her art. There is definitely a sense of mystery, a subtle tension as she calls it, and there is plenty of room for interpretation. Since the artist herself allows interpretation, I will gleefully accept this opportunity. Kowch’s recent work “Soiree” caught my attention a few weeks ago. A pale, auburn haired girl dressed in old-fashioned vintage clothes is sitting on a blanket on a meadow and having a picnic by herself… well, she isn’t all alone, though she has no human company, there are crows and a little dog to share the moment and the delicious food with her. cookies, grapes, a pie. Porcelain dishes clanking. Clouds are thick and heavy, getting darker as they float the sky slowly. The trees and the dark house in the background look unwelcoming.

Crows are such mischievous wild things! They have no sense of decorum, is this the way one behaves at a picnic? It seems like the girl is in her element, for the strangeness hasn’t written the look of surprise on her calm face. She is holding a cup and looking ever so slightly reproachfully at the crow standing at the cherry pie. This could be Anne Shirley, not at her real picnic, but at the imaginary one. I can see her; baking the pie, in the kitchen, apron tied around her dull grey dress without puffed sleeves and she is looking at the dark and rolling skies in the distance, above the chicken coop and the cheery tree and this is what she is daydreaming about; a picnic with crows. Oh, the stories she could tell them! And how they would laugh, and how they would understand all the big, pompous words that adults around her do not.

Andrea Kowch, In the Hollow

Here is a beautiful and fun passage from “Anne of Green Gables” which shows Anne’s love of nature in autumn and her enthusiasm for nature and everything around her in general, from chapter sixteen:

OCTOBER was a beautiful month at Green Gables, when the birches in the hollow turned as golden as sunshine and the maples behind the orchard were royal crimson and the wild cherry trees along the lane put on the loveliest shades of dark red and bronzy green, while the fields sunned themselves in aftermaths.

Anne reveled in the world of color about her.

“Oh, Marilla,” she exclaimed one Saturday morning, coming dancing in with her arms full of gorgeous boughs” ‘I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it? Look at these maple branches. Don’t they give you a thrill—several thrills? I’m going to decorate my room with them.”

“Messy things,” said Marilla, whose aesthetic sense was not noticeably developed. “You clutter up your room entirely too much with out-of-doors stuff, Anne. Bedrooms were made to sleep in.”

“Oh, and dream in too, Marilla. And you know one can dream so much better in a room where there are pretty things. I’m going to put these boughs in the old blue jug and set them on my table.”

Andrea Kowch, On the Point, 2010

And to continue the Anne-theme, here is another passage from the Chapter five where Anne speaks ecstatically about seagulls which are also on Andrea Kowch’s painting above:

Isn’t the sea wonderful?” said Anne, rousing from a long, wide-eyed silence. “Once, when I lived in Marysville, Mr. Thomas hired an express wagon and took us all to spend the day at the shore ten miles away. I enjoyed every moment of that day… I lived it over in happy dreams for years. (…) Aren’t those gulls splendid? Would you like to be a gull? I think I would–that is, if I couldn’t be a human girl. Don’t you think it would be nice to wake up at sunrise and swoop down over the water and away out over that lovely blue all day; and then at night to fly back to one’s nest? Oh, I can just imagine myself doing it.

7 Responses to “Andrea Kowch – I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers”

  1. Lani 28th Oct 2019 at 3:41 am #

    I recently started a newsletter where I share one artist or piece that I like and then the letter starts. And I’m happy to find another art enthusiast who loves beauty. Thanks for turning me on to Andrea. I must use her for my next one.

    You also reminded me of Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet. I’ll have to track down that book soon. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Byron's Muse 29th Oct 2019 at 12:02 am #

      I’m so glad you felt inspired to read Rilke’s Letters to a Young Book! Oh, it’s such a wise, wonderful read and I am sure you will enjoy it as much as I have. And Andrea Kowch is amazing, I can never decide which of her paintings is my favorite because I always keep finding a more beautiful one. So much beauty everywhere that I cannot help but share. Thank you for reading and cheers 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lani 29th Oct 2019 at 8:00 am #

        Well, ages ago I had an art teacher who would read poems and Rilke’s letters before we started class. It was something I always meant to buy, but never did.

        And yes, Kowch is amazing. I like finding modern artists that are making beautiful images. Thanks again.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Byron's Muse 30th Oct 2019 at 5:37 pm #

          It must have been an amazing art teacher if you remember her still 🙂 I had some great teachers in my grammar school and I am grateful for them for opening new horizons to me and inspiring me in so many ways. Thank you for reading my blog and sharing your thoughts 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Emily 28th Oct 2019 at 5:26 pm #

    I love Andrea Kowch! I have a post on her on the backburner that I need to whittle down. I really like your pairing of her work with Anne Shirley’s imagination!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Byron's Muse 29th Oct 2019 at 12:04 am #

      So nice to meet someone who also loves her art 🙂 Yes, she is amazing, the paintings are so gorgeous, so full of details, so enigmatic, so captivating… wow! Thank you, I love making connections between a classic work of art such as a painting with something from literature or pop culture, beauty is beauty and can be found in many different places, in many different forms.

      Liked by 1 person

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