A love story
“The Dancers Series”
“The subject of an artist’s life"
By Elliot J. Nitkin
nina Granirer’s career as an artist has been built around the portrayal of humanity through figurative works. One can express relationships through the painting of bodies in movement and the juxtaposition of figures with the goal, among many, to explore individuals as equals or as subservient. None of her pieces might be viewed as more personal and controversy than her series exploring the biblical narrative concerning Eve and the resulting relationship between women and men.
Few artists can say that their work has been expressed in book form, much less a movie. But then not all have explored the position that women play in biblical literature.
In 1989 Pnina published a book called The Trials of Eve, based on the twelve panel work by the same name. The Trials of Eve explores, in visual and poetic form, the history of woman based on the biblical story recounted in many religions of Adam and Eve. The pictorial and verbal narrative, in the form of a three act play, describes Eve’s courtroom trial and subsequent tribulations. And while the narrative takes us through some very challenging emotions, the disturbing drama does end on a note of hope for the future relationship between men and women.
While it is may be easy for us today to feel superior about the relationship between the genders, fifty years ago, that relationship was vastly different. Women were just beginning to gain the equality they have today and to find their voice outside the home.
For Pnina to explore how Eve was portrayed through the eyes of the three main western religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) and how this translated into a women’s place in society, would have been, at the time, entirely bold. Consider her words, they “put (Eve) in a golden shrine as long as she is good and reads her script as written: the Mother and the Whore. It is all God’s will!”
There is much more to know about the art pieces presented in this book, and I would encourage you to follow this link to her website: http://pninagranirer.com/feminist_theology.html It explains the series through Pnina’s exploration of her own biblical experience and understanding. It is also an admission of the challenges it posed for her in the practice of her faith (Judaism).
Having grown up in a home where women’s rights were a focal issue, I can understand Pnina’s crisis not only in being a Jewish woman in that era but also in having religious faith in general.
Pnina’s journey and my childhood occurred at the same time and I certainly remember – through a child’s eyes – the sense of spiritual turmoil coursing through our shared religious and secular society of the day. Challenging the status quo was a controversial action; much of both the Jewish and Christian religious communities, and to this day the Muslim community, were controlled by oligarchic minded men who felt confident in their right to dictate the terms of people’s morality.
Although I did not know Pnina at the time, I was certainly well acquainted with many of the Vancouver women whose sheer strength of will changed the manner in which women were able to express their religious convictions; and men – some and I must stress not all – were forced to accept a new understanding of women in religion. Challenging the validity of that social order through art was brave and I am certain, daunting. Many highly intelligent women of the day contended for years with a maelstrom of spiritual frustration. I know this, because one gave birth to me.
One gets a sense of the artist’s courage from the following description of the panel “The Verdict”: “The Verdict portrays Eve being found guilty for all time, particularly by Christian theologians with their doctrine of the “Fall” and the woman’s culpability in it”. “In 418 A.D., a Church synod declared that death was not a necessity of nature, but rather a direct result of Eve’s disobedience.” Granirer’s Eve and her Adam are portrayed as marionettes, indicating that in her mind men and women are stock figures for humanity “race unimportant, sex unclear, easily manipulated.”
Through the years her perspective has changed, and society has changed along with it. Her focus is still on figurative work, but now her aim is to celebrate humanity. This is not to say that she has come to accept a women’s role in religion as defined by history. Indeed, it is to celebrate victory over the past oppressive social construct. Her most recent work, done in her 60’s is the Dancers Series.
THE DANCERS SERIES by Pnina Granirer
Dance is one of the oldest forms of human expression. Ever since humanity initiated the rituals that were to ensure its survival, people have swayed and moved to the rhythms of music, using their bodies to appease the gods and to express their joys and sorrows. And later, in dark and hidden caves, their marks on the stone walls became the earliest form of visual art.
The purpose of this series is to express the marriage of these two basic, non-verbal human activities, dance and painting, There is an additional element explored in these works: the long tradition of aesthetics, the need for beauty which is intrinsic to our humanity, as consistently expressed through millennia of artistic endeavour.
I am well aware of the current trends and norms in visual art, as well as of the fact that painting in general and figurative painting in particular are not very popular in Western Canada. However, the interest in the human form and expression is alive and well and I am one of its proponents. This series of works deals with the connection between the disciplines of painting and dance, reflecting my need for simplicity as I grow older.
I have learned that what really counts at the end of the day is not the attractions of new gadgets, technology and machines, but rather the human factor, family and friends. Thus I am returning to the basics, and to the most wonderful machine of all, the human body.
The human factor in dance is irreplaceable and no technological means can change this; dance is an art form that relies totally on muscle and bone, intelligence, perception and creativity. To celebrate the humanity of dance in my work I use painting, the simple, direct and human way of expression that goes back to our very beginnings.
To order Pnina Granirer’s work, please feel free to contact me for personal in home or office service. You are also welcome to look at other pieces at www.pninagranirer.com.