Art and Anne Frank Series

Iris Berger

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Red Sky 1 (1982)

oils on canvas : 92 x 122 cm

Here house and garden, with the chestnut tree, have been lightened depicting hope for freedom, faith in freedom. But these light tones rebound against turbulent red skies. Drawn without her actual features Anne's head symbolizes the tragedy of the many who lived or died in similar ways. Here the particular becomes at one and the same time the universal in the flow of suffering.

In this painting we find a dual perspective operating. On the one hand the viewer is drawn to reflect on the way in which Anne perceives her own reality; it is her head which looks out upon reality, the inter-flows of the present cut with memory. Behind her is the house from which she once looked upon the garden. On the other hand we look on through a large window which takes us into the heart of the inner picture.

Meaning in this picture is created by collapsing conventional temporal categories where future qua future is unknown to 'the present'. Here past, present and future merge as one from the multiply time perspectives, whether it is the collective memory of the viewer looking back on the horrors of the holocaust, or Anne's present normality before hiding, represented by the garden, or her future represented in the camp walls which are analogous to her bedroom wall with the pictures of film stars - her present and past and future. The temporal dimensions of consciousness, Anne's and our own are drawn into the dynamics of fragmented temporal narratives.

The walls of Anne's bedroom, light in colour and tone give way to dark scenes of persecution in the camp. Vertical bars fall over Anne's head and over the blue sky beyond. This is imprisonment. The whole painting is seen from the window frame of her bedroom. In the centre of the painting is a portrait sculpture of Anne as a symbol of her continuing story for future generations.

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