Author Tags: Art, Jewish

Pnina Granirer grew up in Romania and Israel. She has worked and exhibited as a Vancouver artist for fifty years, both locally and internationally. Her paintings express her belief that "beauty has always existed side by side with violence, cruelty and war." The Romanian-born artist's exhibition, "Juxtapositions" included many paintings reproduced in her book The Trials of Eve (1990) that was released in a limited edition printing of 100 copies by Barbarian Press. A softcover edition of 500 copies was published in 1993.

Ted Lindberg later wrote Pnina Granirer: Portrait of an Artist (Ronsdale, 1998), a major retrospective of her work. [See below]

[BCBW 2016] "Art"

Pnina Granirer: Portrait of an Artist
Review (1998)

Pnina Granirer was born of Jewish parents in the Danube port-city of Braila, Romania, in 1935.

"Only now do I understand how lucky we had been to escape the camps and death trains," she says.

She was fortunate again in 1950 when she and her mother were allowed to emigrate to Israel where she was reunited with her father who had fled Communist persecution via a Yugoslav freighter.

Named Paula in Romania, she adopted Pnina -- meaning pearl in Hebrew -- and married a fellow Romanian emigre in 1954. Her family immigrated to Illinois in 1962, then moved to Ithaca, New York in 1964.

"I remember my surprise," she recalls in Ted Lindberg's Pnina Granirer: Portrait of an Artist (Ronsdale $39.95), "having just arrived in North America, that one could get a Master of Fine Arts degree."

Published in conjunction with a 40-year retrospective of her art at the Richmond Art Gallery, Lindberg's study includes 195 full-colour representations and text to examine her highly literate and spiritual approach to art.

In 1969 one of her monoprint drawings of her son, David, was selected for the cover of the UNICEF calendar. Reminiscent of works by William Blake, her Trials of Eve suite (1980-81) melded Old Testament and Westcoast Native symbolism.

A diptych from her 1988 exhibition Fear of Others -- Art Against Racism is now in the collection of the United Nations Human Rights Commission in New York.

Her Kyoto/Buddha series led to "In Search of Eden", a suite that epitomizes her synthesis of mythological themes and sustaining spiritual concerns.

"My angels have human faces," she says. "They are whimsical, happy, ironic. They look at the vibrant poppies so full of vitality and seem to say, 'You have the gift of this wonderful planet, take good care of it! Are you using your skills as an artist to enhance life, or are you just passing through?'

"In effect, working with these images is like therapy for myself -- I realize I need to look at the lighter side of life. In spite of all the darkness and misery in the world, we have to create or our own Edens. In my sixtieth year I have come to accept the fact that Paradise is an elusive goal; I can only keep up the search."

[BCBW 1998]