Homage to the painting of Leon Zanella By
Dr. Martine Pasquet - Curator,
Museum of Modern Art in Paris

While Zanella is not defined by trends, rap artists might even call him “cutting edge”. Today, as modern techniques continually question the endurance of our ancestral mediums, Zanella draws, paints and treats color as it has been done for thousands of years. His vibrant color exudes the purity of his origins, playing off diffracted light in the infinite richness of the prism.

Zanella’s subject is not the ultimate interest of his paintings, nor is it his relationship with his native Provence and lavender fields, or Venetian carnival, or images that call to mind far-off horizons. Rather, it is the inner light that he carries with him and projects onto the canvas. The subject itself is in fact of little consequence, a minor element of the masterpiece. The themes have been captured a thousand times, but they have been reinvented a thousand more. The subject, though illustrated in all shades and styles, is perhaps empty of what defines Zanella: the medium of light. Zanella’s subject is merely a means to discovering light as it takes on the various shapes of the visible.

Brilliant light explodes with each stroke of the brush, radiating waves of light. Radiant light blazes amidst shafts of wheat, flooding the fields with its brightness. The splendor of sparkling light illuminates the silk and velvet shimmering under the winter sun. Whether scorched by the heat, portrayed as playful, or iridescent in water splitting into myriads of particles, it is light that is the true subject of Zanella’s work.
And, his works are Light.
His paintings, like the subjects, are both traditional and reassuring, with themes that have stood the test of time. Not by the boldness of his strokes, but rather as a receptacle of luminescence, his paintings act as a veritable gateway into the richness of his origins.

Zanella paints on canvas and porcelain, not stained glass. Yet his work carries the same healing power as the stained-glass windows of the Middle Ages foregoing the centrality of the subject. His combination of sun-penetrated colors appears to restore the very energy of one who exposes himself to such light… sometimes even achieving full recovery.
The artist, through his natural instinct, has rediscovered the meaning of what was considered a branch of medicine in Greece, Egypt and China: colorful light. The Ancients understood that when a wave touches matter, its rate of vibration changes. And yet, colors are waves whose velocity of propagation vary and, because of this, provoke changes in energy that have the power to heal or destroy. For over a century, doctors have successfully experimented with light therapy, laser treatments being the most recent application. Similarly, industrial psychology has perfectly understood the effect of color and the influence that it can have over behavior, both physically and mentally.
Light transmits life. The greatest compliment one could pay to Zanella’s work is to admit that whoever contemplates his juxtaposed colors, benefits from his life force. The colors, enduring sparks of primordial energy, conceal part of the secrets of nature through their power to restructure and break down the cause of malaise.

The living being is full of millions of nuances, all representing the emotional states of the ego. What Zanella calls to mind, in the one hundred and fifty shades of his palette, is that everything in this world uses color to spread the power of its vibrating force. What is so striking in his work is his revelation that the associations of colors follow a predetermined image, not only in the organized innermost psychic and physical structure of each color, but also throughout our vast solar system.
The artist has instinctively perceived the quality of contrasts in the fundamental energies of Man, thereby triggering the active forces of the spirit.

In every painting, Zanella’s juxtaposition of color and actions is rightfully a cause for contemplation.
For example, in his series of Venetian masks – a favorite Zanella subject if there is indeed one – the costumes and his combination of greens, pinks, yellows and blues in contrast with the white masks, portray a typical look of a Venetian carnival. Unlike the associations of the ever-forbidden exoticism, movement, dispersed crowds, outpouring of emotions and sensations, Zanella reveals the collective mentality resulting from unique thought. Yet, the organization on the canvases – predominantly green and pink – creates an entirely different kind of magic that is alchemical, secret even. This kind of magic appeases and focuses on the emotional (pink/selfless love, with a spirit of renewal when associated with red), in a regenerating balance (greens) that permits self-reflection and the repose of the spirit into the infinite (blues and indigos), before radiating in sublime idealism (purples) in order to better send out altruistic love (yellows). In its origins, the white mask served as the transparent medium of the waves it creates before re-harmonizing, through its natural vibration, the Dionysian energies that bring about self-destruction – the exact contrary to the clichéd idea and to “liberating” impulses.
The conclusions of physiologists that the wavelengths of light send vibrations and generate biochemical reactions through organs and certain glands in the brain enable us to better understand what lies at the heart of Zanella’s paintings.

Looking at a Zanella is like undergoing a reconstruction of the subconscious that rebuilds our inner-self. Whether spontaneous color therapy or amateur psychotherapy, Zanella projects the power of the sun onto the canvas, portraying wondrous vibrations that transmit life.

The Light that inspires Zanella drives straight to the core of what is real.

Dr. Martine Pasquet – Curator,
Museum of Modern Art in Paris

Translation provided by Jane Neumayr