Sharing scars with Anna Tsvell

Scars – a mark on the skin or within the mind that resides permanently from previous trauma.

We all have them. From the time you were four years old, climbing on the kitchen cabinet to reach for the biscuit jar. Just slightly beyond your childish reach. A gash, once a mottled red mess, now a thin line you still look at to this day. Maybe it was the time that your heart broke and tears flooded every day for a month, heart strings ripped. Life felt duller. An invisible scar rose to the surface.

The body becomes permeated with marks, bumps, bruises. At first, they were a blazing red and now exist as a dull silvery smear. Anna Tsvell choses to highlight such experiences and displays scars, in their many forms, within her work.

Sharing scars with Anna Tsvell
Anna Tsvell

Anna is a contemporary artist based in Moscow. Self-taught, she creates abstract pieces of artwork, often depicting figures with elongated necks and droopy oceanic blue eyes, brimming with emotion. Her style is unique. Chaotic and vibrant backgrounds alongside her striking illustrations of predominantly women, are ones to look at in awe. Staring at her busy pieces rarely tires; every square inch will reveal another section of skin that possesses a different story. Whether an illustrious gouge, a sensuous split or a mental scar, they are all celebrated.

To “show the body which literally consists of visible and invisible scars,” is Anna’s desire. She celebrates these physical memories and traumas artistically. Appreciating the legacy of these bodily blemishes, Anna states that, “They are so essential that they define each of us right here right now”. She sees that “we are getting scars our entire life”. So why so do we hide them? Why do we so often seek to stretch bits of material to cover the moments that define us?

Her art uses scars to depict their “role in the formation of a personality”, understanding them as “make(ing) us who we are”. Maybe you cannot quite recall that bump on your knee from falling off your bike when you ten, but it still marked you. And it marked you for life.

So often within Anna’s work we see these scars being added subtly. As though she attempts to articulate that a scar to you seems big and obvious, yet to anyone else, hardly noticeable. Never something to be ashamed of. She craftily places slits, cuts, and mental bruises within the crevices of her paintings. They nudge towards a pain that was once rampant, but now is just a numb memory. These open gashes are often seen with prodding fingers as though her subject is reminding themselves of the pain that once occurred; never quite able to forget.

Scars litter her paintings, yet the crucial part of this exposure is the blend of pain and pleasure. As she states, her work “is interweaving chaotically combined scarred parts of the body with hedonistic mood”. She does this to display underlying truth that scars have shaped us – they have pained us yes – but in reality, the markings on the body and in the mind do not prevent future pleasure.

Sharing scars with Anna Tsvell
Anna Tsvell

A yearning and pleading to show that those who struggle with the scars know that the current painful state of a fresh wound does not transpose forever. A broken heart hurts. A torn ligament is agonising. But agony turns into pain, then to no more than a lulling niggle. Eventually, all that is left is a thin white line or mental scar acting as a simple reminder of the past. We all have them. We all know they heal.

Anna’s vision and clear ideas towards scars are ongoing. Currently locked down like the rest of us, Anna is taking quarantine creativity to the next level, producing new pieces all the time. Her Instagram platform is a rich tapestry of pain and pleasure, blended with vivid colours, dark lines and mixtures of faces.

New aches and pains are often difficult to comprehend. Yet even the deepest of wounds bind together and knit the tissue fibers, tightly, strongly. Scars may not be perfect, but they are here to stay.

To see more of Anna’s work, visit her website here.

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