“The work, permeated by a dark royal blue, evokes an uneasy serenity; like the way one might feel in an empty field or expanse of water in the middle of the night.”
Margaretha Gubernale, The Siren. Courtesy of the artist.
Together with my sister
I played on a rock
surrounded by water.
We sang a song of feelings.
Than people with dark and selfish sense
passed with their ships
and imitated our childlike singing.
Soon they died
by this sound corrupt of them.
By Abraham Lubelski & Arielle Ozery
In looking at Gubernale’s painting, Phoenix, one is reminded of the character of Ophelia from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Though she is only revealed in small bursts throughout the play, it is her untimely and tragic demise that serves to portray her as not only the most memorable character, but also one with whom every audience member desires to sympathize. The deep maroon coloring that Gubernale uses as her foundation for Phoenix communicates a rich feeling of warmth and comfort but it is the female figure, at the edge of a cliff, reaching for the moon, that evokes an unyielding sensation of desperation and unrequited desire reminiscent of Ophelia. The unattainable moon acts as a spotlight, highlighting the curves of her body and contours of her longing, and yet it keeps its distance. The woman presented in this work epitomizes the feeling of impossible yearning; a sensation inseparable from the history of the human experience. Yet, what this mystical female form longs for is not the love of another person but of a celestial object, something—by definition, unearthly—so unattainable that it is impossible to even conceive of being fulfilled. Through this work Gubernale conveys the depths of human despair as a result of unfeasible love.
I let char my driary soul of raven
and put on a peacock feather.
This I stripped off,
because without the light their colours died .
So I borrowed a pen of swan
and to the light I fly with her.
The Siren, another work by Gubernale, depicts two people, looking in different directions, atop a body of water in the middle of the night. The work, permeated by a dark royal blue, evokes an uneasy serenity; like the way one might feel in an empty field or expanse of water in the middle of the night. It is soothing, peaceful and yet it is the darkness that hides the very things that have to propensity to cause harm. The two figures, lit by the moon and painted in all white, seem to be imploring both the sea and sky for help and love, in what appears to be a midnight journey. This painting, much like The Phoenix, seem to express a feeling of longing and searching for something beyond reach. It is this sensation—that of unfulfilled desire—that seems to infiltrate the entirety of Gubernale’s body of work.
Margaretha Gubernale’s paintings transport the viewer into an alternate universe due to her love of fantasy, story-telling, and poetry. Her especially beautiful use of mythical creatures takes the viewer to places one hears tales of but never before dared to visit in their imagination. All of the paintings are set in a vibrant and mysterious fantastical world and depict mystical figures in a way where the painting tells a story on its own, a story so well rendered and communicated through her airy brushstrokes, that it doesn’t need to be vocalized to be understood.