Jacob L. Cybulski, Mount Waverley, January 2008
When you stand in front of Dana’s pictures, you are instantly drawn into imaginary space of interlocked shapes and vibrant colour; you are taken through the flutter and commotion of rushing figures; and, cast into the unreal and the world of dreams and fantasy. Standing there, you’d wonder from where Dana takes her inspiration; what is the source of her abstract motifs; and, what guides her mind and her brush when creating lands of fables, myths and legends. Perhaps you’d be surprised to know that fantasy and abstract imagery have always been Dana’s companions and always within her reach from the earliest childhood, through the youth, to the maturity and adulthood. You’d be surprised…
Imagine, a little Polish girl with ice-skates thrown over her shoulder running over the snowy hills to the ice encased pond, kneeling on the frosty surface and looking into the transparency of ice. There she’d spot bubbles of captured air reflecting the winter sun in a rainbow of colour. In her mind, the amazed little girl would weave fairy tales from the frozen air magically injected into solid ice. In her adulthood, the sunray inspired colours, shapes and fairytales would return again and again in her astonishing decorative arts, ceramics, commercial art and advertising.
Imagine, this unusual little girl writing poetry as gifts to friends and family, drawing beautiful portraits of people whom she’d like to reward for their kindness and imposing ugly caricatures onto others that she’d penalise for their crudeness. Constantly doodling on scraps of paper – in defiance of her teachers and parents – the little girl has continued her creative outbursts into the present, still unstoppable in pouring her love, fears and confusion onto her creative canvas, and thus, fashioning generous gifts of her imagination to her friends, family and general public.
Imagine, a school girl on the way from school dancing through the parks of her hometown. Suddenly she is stopped by a gypsy woman requesting to read her palm. The gypsy would tell the bewildered child colourful stories of the far away lands, inhabited by strange people and creatures, and foretelling her that one day she’d leave Poland and go over the ocean to this curious place, where she’d live happily ever after. Years later, as a mature woman, the little girl would reflect on the gypsy tales that had lead her to Australia, set at the Worlds’ end, and where her life has become incredibly rich in experience and achievement, all vividly reflected in the strokes of oil, gouache and ink.
Leprechauns, gnomes and fairies, ghosts and spirits, birds and beasts, men and women dancing in the forest, over lakes, and through the air would later become the focus of Dana’s fables to her own children. These extraordinary stories – subsequently moulded into folk art and abstractions of pure energy and saturated emotion – still amaze generations of young and old who are all deeply touched by Dana’s unconstrained fantasy.
So when you too are tempted by the dance of colour and imagination in Dana’s pictures, just let go and listen to the little girl’s whispers and her tales of wonder.