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Returning from the Catch
re: John (Jan) Zwara - Returning from the Catch (artwork #3119)

John (Jan) Zwara (1880-1951)

Returning from the Catch (1944)

Gouache on Paper
15 x 19 inches
Signed Lower Left

This painting was featured in our weekly email on 1/13/17 along with the following gallery comments:

If you follow Indiana art, you’re probably familiar with the moving story of Jan Zwara. A trained painter and Hungarian émigré, he came to the US in the early twentieth century. He found initial work as an itinerate laborer and moved about for several years. He eventually wound up in Indianapolis, around 1930. He was befriended by Alex Vonnegut as well as art dealer Herman Lieber. He was diagnosed with having severe mental health issues (schizophrenia, much better understood today) and at the urging of Vonnegut, checked into Central State Hospital in 1938. He only remained for about six months but created a huge body of work depicting the grounds during his stay. His problems before the stay at Central State remained his problems after leaving – largely homeless, indigent, not a strong English speaker and of course, mental illness. He nevertheless was a prolific and very talented painter throughout his existence, passing away in 1951. Today’s piece, Back from the Catch (our title) was created in 1944. Zwara would have been Indianapolis-based at this point and it’s often been suggested to me by others who have seen the work, that it was probably painted from a photograph. Perhaps something in Life magazine (or similar). However it came to be – it’s a rather stunning example of a Zwara gouache. The gouache medium, with it’s applied white tones works to great effect in the sea waters floating the trawler. Zwara is one of my favorite Indiana artists and though this piece isn’t a more representative Indiana landscape, it beautifully captures a rapturous sunset and the fishing boat in calm, open seas. Well done, Jan Zwara!

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