ART CRITIC English translation

Letizia Zombory: expressionist surrealism of a dreamlike tale of Venice

She is a daring colorist, a narrator who suspends between the real world and a fairy tale. She is the Dutch painter (who now lives and works in Italy) Letizia Zombory, who in her paintings balances on the edge of dreams, abandons realistic figuration and perspective and has its own poetic and personal vision that ignores the natural color, the laws of gravity and the traditional ways of dealing with space.

But the world she portrays is not purely a mirage. As Marc Chagall once said: “all our inner world is reality, perhaps even more real than apparent world”. Our inner world, however, consists of dreams, wishes and memories and with time they can fade and dissolve. It is necessary to get out from time to time and take some vital air. The paintings of Zombory, rich in symbols and fantastic people, tell the story of her soul, proved by profound human dramas, but her soul never died to live.

Her works show us that the invisible world can become visible thanks to the magic of colors that sing and dance in absolute freedom. The universe that she represents is not realistic but doesn’t deviate so much from reality that it’s easy to understand, even by non-professionals of the art. The creatures that soar in her paintings bring the world of everyday happiness and sweetness of poetry, as well as a certain degree of velvety irony and are infused in the magical value of myth (understood etymologically as narrative, allegorical Fable).

Her works are covertly marked by her dramatic temperament, but can be poetic and romantic at the same time; combining with mastery of the green-blue(symbolizing life) and black (representing the negativity), as in An afternoon of Carnival, the undoubted echoes (in the sky, in water and in return the Rialto Bridge) with the typical Venice by Remo Brindisi.

Zombory stands at the border of the Naive, the Expressive and Formal surrealism through a clear message of the image. She plays with the color and blends, bringing out her personality of a free woman. It is dissolved in her features, graphics, its brushwork is instinctive and without reconsideration, brought to a personal balance.

Attracted by the beauty of Venice, she depicts it with great charisma, making it feel with expressionistic brush strokes. To suggest this from every corner of the city and portrays Venice with passion, but also with grace and harmony. In her palette she introduces blues, blacks, grays and whites but also pinks and yellows which give vibrancy to her work and overlapping them by creating a clear transparency of poetry, full of emotions, color bands creating a harmony, tuned like as a Symphony and to produce new fantastic spaces, like the sound of a Rondò Veneziano. In Venice, there are swarm of figures in 18th century costumes in the magical Carnival, the figures are painted with small vibrating brushstrokes as derived from Paul Signac’s pointillist Neoimpressionism, by Hippolyte Petitjean or Henri-Edmond Cross.

In these fantastic representations she makes a mental reality and arrives at the dream, projecting hope, life itself. Letizia Zombory’s Expressionism is treated with grace, her works are concealed behind a forthright figuration to take a joyful image of the universe that surrounds us. The paintings veiled of metaphors, where Zombory plays with space, with its innocence and unconsciousness, her expressive language continues to alternate between imagination and reality.

She has specified her own directives stylistic guidelines, she persist with constancy and the figures, the morphological deformations, which were typical of the late already fauve of André Derain, keeping intact the dreamlike tension and expressive force. So it is in the Venezian Love, there are two lovers of a kind of retelling of sirens, where their bodies could be seen to transmute into sinuous gondolas, while the background shows a schematic image of the basilica di San Marco. Zombory’s style seems to be  influenced by the works of Paul Cézanne and Vincent Van Gogh, but above all by Marc Chagall (with its surreal floating characters without laws of gravity) and, in part  by Remo Brindisi with his Venezie. Her painting style is measured, luminous, serene. However she simplifies the figure less antinaturalistic mode, compared to fauve-painters. Warm and cool colors are combined, they are very conflicted, laid out with free brush strokes.

Her paintings do not reproduce Venezian reality, documented as in a photo reportage, there are no obviously resemblances.

None of the works painted by her have a compositional character, likely to be considered an “ex voto”, “santino” urban oleografic of the lagoon city. The painter is realistic for choice of subject and expressionist for formal exasperation. The poetic realism has turned naturally to Expressionism, breaking with explanatory narration.

Therefore, a surreal figuration takes over the winning as stylistic as iconic topos. Her figures are primarily visual proposals resulting from the long inner struggle. There seems to intuit that they are like an underground movement. Everything is allegorical, symbolic, dreamlike. The image has never the actual color, the colors are unreality. Letizia Zombory is a painter who gives body to her artistic aspirations, taking in the privacy of her recondite nature that mysteriously is as her art and a priority is never manifested.

In her works it is not possible to detect traces of anger, alienation, indignation. In every paintings of Venice she plays with the colors of fantasy, with the colors of the decoration. Her images of humans are abstractly symbolic, there are dates on the context of a landscape, they are well characterized from the formal point of view or composition for objectivity, they are highlighted and they do recognize as a universal icon (Venice with its famous monuments). In particular, the Doge’s Palace, the Church and the Bell Tower of San Marco are stylized in the Everybody go to the Carnival, where from two gates or from a surreal paintings with golden frame a multitude of characters go out ,- rendered according to the techniques of pointillism-, who depart towards the Piazza San Marco in clarity white monochrome, they are almost suspending in the middle of  the scene, taking away from the space. There is absolute light, the synthesis of the brightness can be found in every Venetian painting, where the domes of the churches of Venice come to schematization which was by Virgilio Guidi in his Venice. The symbolic surrealism, which is stretched towards the light, as with Fellini, recurring in the Recovery of the lost Sun, a Carnival feast along the canals of Venice among the old patrician palaces (rendered as pre-war era architecture of the twentieth century), in which the Queen of the Sun is worshipped as Sorastro in Mozart’s magic flute.

In her works, – she is inspired by Chagall (Russian landscapes) and  above all Pieter Breugel (with views from the precision lenticular rural environments Nordic countries),- in the St. Mark’s square under the snow seems to see a magical fairy tale, depicted as a thumbnail with its teeming chaos of figures and the Venetian square with the domes of his Church, seems to transmute into a large Orthodox Church or Byzantine-Oriental vision of Constantinople, in the muffled silence she is succeeding in the communication, while the night the populated appearances with happiness and optimism, and it is done by the choice of bright and brilliant colors.

Zombory´s world is colored, as if seen through the window of a Gothic church, her poetic world feeds on a fantasy, which refers to childhood innocence and fairy tales, the color refers to the Fauves. The simplicity of form connects to Primitivism, the theme of  the dreams is surrealist, the scenes and fantasies are popular, her metaphysical figures transform the chronicle, according to the simultaneity of a dream.


Dott.Prof.Arch.Storico dell´architettura, CRITICO d’ARTE MODERNA e CONTEMPORANEA,