Hello Tree

I followed twelve distinct trees for twelve months on the island of Krk by photographing, sketching, painting and contemplating them. In the tree I discover forbearance, tenacity, constancy, wit, protection, care, the will to live, diversity and wondrous wisdom. My wish here is to accompany the observer trough a multitude of offered images from nature: photographs of that same twelve distinct trees – trough my private observation and contemplation diary – trough the meditation I experience by painting. The small format photographs will be exhibited in the first room of the gallery. Those photographs are glued to wooden blocks of irregular shape. In the interspace, I will install a book full of sketches and thoughts.

from The Diary of Observation – Dagmar Franolić, Krk, 2009


Just one thing to touch you
Reject all the rest
And just to this one thing
Give all your attention
In it you will see
The whole beauty of the universe
And everything created
You’ll see grace too
And peace
And joy
And time
And you will find

Dagmar Franolić, 25th April 2009 (Tree Day)

It is difficult to determine specifically when did the tree emerge as an autonomous motive in the painting of Dagmar Franolić, that profiled herself as a landscape and vedute painter. Probably it was always present there, embedded into her landscapes, just that it never had such a significance that it has now. Because since the autoress, two years ago, started to work on the project „Hello Tree“, the tree assumed a dominant role in her art, becoming not only a main theme, but a fundamental concept on which the wholeness of her new cycle is built upon. The cycle which, however, logically follows her previous painting, enshrouded with a specific atmosphere of dreamy poetry and lyrical metaphysics. Her intimistic painting that carries elements of reality, but also elements interpreted by the author herself wherein the seen is conjoined with the experienced and emotive, the associative and symbolical, creating her own new and personal reality. The recognizable elements of the authoress expression are certainly present in this new cycle as well as her characteristic spatial perspective, just that they don’t hold the landscape panoramically (she still looks at it from an upper position), but focusing herself on the detail – the tree. Because onto it, one winter suddenly her gaze came to rest upon and stayed there for a long while. Since then, her regard towards this motive changed completely. In her dairy entries that are an inherent part of the project „Hello Tree“ she mentions it with lots of poetry:

„Winter on the island. The wind whistles around your ears, sometimes the rain falls day by day and the sea can’t rid itself of that dark leaden color. The memories of sunny swelting summer days full of tourists, tumult and scuffle, already fade until February and the days loose their warmth, it seems that the sun will never warm up again. I love the winter. Then I have lots of time – time for painting, reading, thinking and for walks. Time for myself. One day while I was painting I noticed that my trees always looked the same – that I decided to change. I decided to acquaint myself with the trees, exercise observation… But still, it all started suddenly on one foggy morning from one melia tree that is part of the city centers ambient. A melia tree so much blended into that vista, that all her beauty and all her changes not even get noticed anymore. But on that day, I did notice her after all. As usually, I was passing next to her, but then I noticed a true charm in that misty day – because the melia tree shone with all her gentle beauty. Her leave-less branches were filled with ivory colored balls and looked fascinating in the mist. I wanted to photograph this beauty so the next morning I came back with the camera – but it was already too late. From all the charm only severed branches remained that people collected and carried away. My only recourse was to try to paint it all…“

The authoress then decided to see what is happening to the other trees beside which we often unconsciously pass by and that remain barely noticed. She chose, besides the melia tree that she noticed first and the nettle tree that also often passes by unnoticed in the city center, a few other trees. Firstly those that are always somewhere within her horizon while she paints in her atelier: the fig and the pine. Then she visited her surroundings and ultimately chose a few others: the walnut, the olive, a group of salt cedars (that then, during winter, bare as they were, looked “as if they will start dancing”), the poplar, the cypresses, the old oak tree, the chestnut and the ash.

She regularly visited them trough the period of two years, observed them and acquainted herself with them. She observed the change of the seasons in them, the reflections of color and light, the birthing and the dying, the signs of time and space, and their conversations with wind, sun, rain, clouds and stars… Sometimes she could, trough a short walk, visit them all at once and sometimes the authoress-researcher would visit just one of them. Dagmar and her trees always “encountered” themselves in a regular rhythm of two weeks, so she soon started to notice changes on them that she didn’t notice before. She started to observe more judiciously and learned to communicate with nature. Every change, every sensation, every unusual detail and beauty that she didn’t notice before was registered by eye and by spirit – but also by her camera. In that way the trees became much more than mere visual inspiration, they became a medium of listening to nature – all her energies and cyclical movements, all her changes and atmospheres of season, life and growth. They confirmed themselves as a symbol of the human integration into the environment and an indicator of their harmonious coexistence as well.

At home, in Dagmar’s atelier, slowly, during two years, the material for the project set into growth: diary entries, sketches, paintings, collages, poems…

Finally a cross-discipline, multimedia Fable about the Tree emerged that the authoress narrated trough twelve distinct fables about “her chosen trees”. She narrated it bringing into her artistic expression all her emotions, toughs and dreams, lyrics and phantasmagoria and above all – her imagination.

Set into the space of the gallery as a scenic installation her story is read trough an array of collages – poetical watercolors conjoined with drawings, a series of photographs, a group of small painted wooden objects, trough music and trough poems that the very paintress is authoring – that altogether emit a dense savor to all our senses, filling us with a multitude of auditory-visually-haptic experience. Besides that, always inviting us to dialogue and communication – spiritual and mental.

Višnja Slavica Gabout


The Poem of the Salt Cedars

…because it is the wind
that forms us,
and I stand towards the wind…
and nevertheless…
remain the one
who I am…

Dagmar Franolić

( Hello Tree Exhibition Catalogue.pdf 223 KB )

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