By Lindsey Davis
East Cambridge, MA – Alexandra Rozenman’s show “Transplanted” works to do just that — move you from this world into another, one with more hope, less worry, and more wonder. Scenes of bliss simply painted, the 11 large works hang in the Multicultural Arts Center’s Upper Gallery like 11 rectangular portals, most inspired by famous hands from art history.
In “Moving in with Breugel,” Alexandra’s world of painting clashes at a diagonal with the worlds created by the Flemish Renaissance painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder. She casts green grass against white snow that’s complete with the hunters and their dogs from Bruegel’s 1565 painting, “The Return of the Hunters.”
“Moving with Turner to Brooklyn” shows a girl facing a city with paint dripping all around her — a fantasized version of J.M.W. Turner’s characteristic melting, blended use of color. It’s a reinterpretation of Turner’s “Rain Steam and Speed: The Great Western Railway,” completed in 1844 at the height of the industrial revolution. But in Alexandra’s work, the train is speeding away from a city that’s become over industrialized, and it’s not a steam engine bustling towards a new world of invention, but a subway taking commuters to Manhattan.
Alexandra came to America as a political refugee from Moscow at the end of the 80s, and after living in New York and Boston, she moved to the Midwest where she taught at various colleges including Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She returned to the East Coast only three years and now lives and works in New England. She says she likes to work in isolation, listening to loud music after drinking strong black tea. When she’s not painting, she’s teaching others, spending almost five hours every day at a private art school she started called Art School 99.
Her past as a refugee is combined with a childlike sense of playfulness in each painting, all searching for some kind of identity, but enjoying the process of looking. “I tell my viewer a story, allow them to enter into the world of magic and hope that they will get curious and will spend some time thinking and looking around,” she said, “My work expresses longing for understanding and being understood, for non-belonging and finding a place to be.”
(Transplanted is on view until April 8 in the Upper Gallery at the Multicultural Arts Center, 41 Second Street, East Cambridge, Mass. For more information call 617-577-1400.)