World War II left its mark on Pinchas Maryan physically and artistically. Great artists such as Emil Nolde, Max Beckmann, and others knew how to create a more interesting canvas by not literally painting what they were trying to convey. Pinchas Maryan (formerly “Burstein born of Jewish heritage) was Polish but lived in America as well; miraculously survived the unspeakable inhumanity of the Auschwitz prison camps to tell his story with paint and brush.
It is quite interesting to note that Maryan has a dedicated niche following and has achieved several strong auction records.
Maryan has created the single image of a brutish monster he impersonally referred to as a "personage" in the unlikely guise of a bird. This exaggerated and distorted figure is eerily reminiscent of Picasso's portraits that have morphed into a haunting and threatening reminder of terror truly lived. Only time would soften such autobiographical paintings by Maryan, who once remarked, "It is myself, in whatever color, that I put on the canvas..." Discernable in the execution of the painting is the strong expressionist influence of such fellow contemporary artists as Bernard Dubuffet and the Cobra painter Karel Appel with its wild, gestural, almost cartoonish mouths and limbs ironically removed from the gracefulness usually associated with birds. The analogy of the bird figure thinly disguised the underlying message of fear captured in this portrait of true evil encountered face-to-face, a timely reminder of the disturbing images that make up today's news stories.
My Name is Maryan, Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, 17 November 2021 – 20 March 2022, Alison M. Gingeras, Curator.