Category: Opinion

The symbolism of trees through time and space, based on the paintings by Ganna Kryvolap.

The tree is an amazing plant, a miracle of nature. Already in the earliest cultures, myths and fairy tales were written about trees; for many people, the archetypal World Tree, which united the underworld, the terrestrial and celestial worlds, became symbolic. Many tree species have become iconic: the olive tree was venerated on Aegean islands, the oak tree was dedicated to Zeus in Ancient Greece, the fig tree symbolized Israel and the aspen tree became the Judas tree. Stylized images of trees can be found everywhere in the millennial history of art – from the earliest rock paintings to ceramics and embroidery.

Artists of New times gradually turned from symbolic depiction of nature to realistic one, the genre of landscape art appeared in Europe. Accuracy of detail and reliability in conveying life, the effects of light, analysis of form and texture – that is what fascinated the great landscape painters. Camille Corot’s trees are not like those of Paul Cézanne, Van Gogh’s cypresses are different from those of Arnold Böcklin. Ukrainian artist Ganna Kryvolap works a lot with landscapes in general, she also has a series of tree paintings. Ganna’s stylistic range is wide. There are generalized but still largely naturalistic images: a blooming apple tree, with carmine warm spring earth and verdant fields in the background; or a sprawling tree with a rose-red crown over old roofs; or even a tree – a globe of earth, carrying oceans and continents on an endearingly whitewashed stem.

Another group of works is created in an abstract style. These trees are transformed by the author’s imagination into colorful, cheerful woven paths, in folk embroidery. For thousands of years, embroiderers have used tree motifs to speak of the beauty and fertility of nature. Now it is as if Ganna transforms stitches of bright thread into textured strokes of paint – they are leaves and stems, fruits and flowers.

Ganna Kryvolap’s trees combine past and present, archaic tradition and modernist painting. The earth meets the sky on the horizon, and the tree still connects the three parts of the universe: the underworld, the terrestrial, and the celestial into a single world. Its roots are the basis of life, its crown is the whole world, filled with light and hopes for the future.


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