This year’s September, unusually sunny, warm and still filled with summery colors and fragrances, is truly, a gift of Nature…. And at the end of the month, our community had received one more gift of the season — ART Philmont 2012 — an art exhibition of two very talented people: Rae Chichilnitsky (painting) and Emanuel Antsis (digital art), presented at the Feretti showroom on Philmont Avenue.
At the opening reception, on September 29th, neither of the artists had time even for a brief interview. Only a week later, as the initially hectic schedule and craziness started to wind down, I finally got a chance to meet with one of them, Rae Chichilnitsky. So, I came to Feretti once again, this time equipped with a long list of questions, and there, at the sun-filled showroom–turned–gallery, had an hour-long conversation with her.
Regretfully, the next day my editor informed me that it would be impossible to publish my lengthy interview in its entirety and so, there and then, it was decided to forgo the classical Q&A structure and to just summarize my material into a single essay instead. However, the title of my interview – pointed-short and at the same time, in my opinion, very meaningful, as it is able to convey the secret of the artist’s creativity – has remained unchanged and that was important.
My choice of this article title, Heat, has inspired by one of the Rae’s best, similarly entitled paintings on display. This artwork, which stands out from the other pieces with its composition, style and subject matter, is filled with an unusually powerful expressiveness and is practically vibrating with the life-affirming energy of earthy love. At the same time, this state of body and soul can be perceived as the highest expression of one’s creative inspiration, without which artistic beauty would not be possible.
All paintings of Rae Chichilnitsky presented at this exhibit share common qualities, able to easily attract a true connoisseur of the visual arts. While, some of her paintings are purely abstract and decorative, the others are figurative and symbolic. But regardless of the genre, Rae’s paintings carry positive energy, joy and an aura of well-being and celebration of life.
Firstly, (and most importantly) this has to do with her own, unique style of painting, about which she writes: “I mostly work in acrylics, markers, pencils, watercolor and mixed media. Lately, I’ve been gravitating toward more decorative style with bright colors and bold images, as it radiates positive energy and brings me joy. As part of this process, I’ve developed my technique — I call it “Stained Glass on Canvas” — which combines acrylic brush-and-sponge painting on stretched canvas, with multiple layers of glazes and relief outlines, creating luminous, light-infused imagery and fusing the craft of vitrage with fine art of traditional painting…”
Secondly, Rae’s paintings are thought-provoking. Every detail carries some meaning and ignites viewers’ imagination as if they turn pages of someone’s life story.
For example, the painting “Queen Esther” (from the Biblical series) depicts an episode from the well-known story of the miraculous saving of the Jewish people through the heroism of Esther, the wife of the Babylonian king Artasecs. This story later gave birth to a holiday, called Purim. In the center of the painting, Esther, full of poise and beauty sits between her husband and his evil vizier Haman, who is holding a scroll – the malicious decree calling for extermination of all Jews in the kingdom – ready to be signed by the king. He has no doubt in his victory. A gorgeous spread of delicacies, prepared by Esther, lays in front of them. In her wisdom and against all rules of the court, she had invited both men to a banquet in her chambers, hoping to lure Haman into his own trap. She looks understandably tense, as she’s risking her life and holds the fate of her people in her hands. The outcome is unknown. All colors, shapes and details of the painting are helping to recognize the participants and their roles in this dramatic scene.
This approach, also carried out through many other figurative paintings, adds to them a certain intellectual charm.
In this sense, I must also mention another painting from the same Biblical series – Temptation of Adam and Eve. The forbidden fruit glows and hovers in the center, pulling Eve to itself like a magnet. Mesmerized, unable to fight its pull, she’s determined to get this fruit against all considerations, while Adam is all drawn toward Eve, the very first woman, and this attraction proves stronger than his fear of disobedience. Everyone knows this story, yet to know is one thing, while to see this vivid depiction with own eyes is quite another.
Rae’s path toward her original style of painting was long. But lately, this style had really become her brand. She has no competition in this right now and this factor can only increase the value of her paintings, especially, when as they began to attract the interest of serious collectors.
Rae admits that she’s independent in her creative choices, since she mostly paints for herself and thus lets her imagination flow freely between absolutely different series of paintings (be it “Flowers” “Meaningful Veggies”, “Zodiac Signs” or others) with an equal enthusiasm and performance flair.
Offered to the ART Philmont visitors is a beautifully-made, thick catalog of Rae’s artwork, in which one can find both types of her art pieces: those, presented at the current exhibit and those, which weren’t included. Here one can find the information about her website, where she keeps her full portfolio and offers customized prints of her artwork in a variety of configurations and sizes.
However, one won’t find in this catalog any explanation of how the blue-eyed girl from the Moldavian capital Chicinau has become a well-known artist in the “City of Brotherly Love”. Of how little Rae, from her early childhood, was dreaming of becoming an artist, something she was wired for genetically (her grandfather and her aunt on her mother’s side, were self-made talented artists). Yet, Rae’s parents have chosen a different career path for her and so, she went to study classical music, majoring in musicology. A year after the graduation, Rae with her family has emigrated to the USA, where she has switched to the IT field and had a successful over 20-years career in the corporate world.
Yet, through all this, Rae always kept her dream alive: she had never stopped creating, never stopped expressing herself artistically. She was doing it for herself, as well as she was free-lancing and periodically, exhibiting. Black and white graphics, book illustrations, paintings and various crafty creations – all of this went into her artistic treasure chest. Here she also kept hidden from others such things as her dedication, perseverance, soul a musician, genes of her grand father, influence of the world greatest artists, inquisitive mind of a computer programmer and moral support of her family.
All of which helped polishing the artistry of Rae Chichilnitsky.
I’ve come to her with a long list of questions, none of which was left without the answer.
In the big and airy space of the showroom, drenched in sunlight of the Indian Summer and filled with the spirit of art, Rae shared with me and all readers of the “Philadelphia News” her world and her views freely and generously. The foliage in the beautiful park across Philmont Ave. was beginning to finally turn all wonderful hues of fall…
By popular demands, the ART 2012, originally scheduled to work until the end of October, will be extended indefinitely. Please, call (215) 771-1165 for specific information.
Work hours: noon to 6pm, daily. Mondays closed.
Address: Feretti Motors Showroom, 3001 Philmont Avenue,
Huntingdon Valley, PA, 19006