A few years ago, Ann Arbor resident Angelis Jackowski was an engineering student at EMU. Then she took a painting class and discovered her true calling. Jackowski traded engineering for art, and the accolades soon followed-first a series of awards form EMU's Intermedia Group, then, in 1994 and 1995, top honors in the Michigan Watercolor Society's annual exhibition.
Now an exhibit at T'Marra Gallery gives Ann Arbor audiences a look at Jackowski's work. A dozen large (four by four feet) floral watercolors depict the lush tropical flowers of Jackowski's native Venezuela. These are beautiful, compelling, haunting works, with moods and personalities as distinct as the individual flowers.
These range from sharply angular "Ave Gigante del Paraiso," a purple bird of paradise whose clean lines are echoed in the geometric foliage of the background, to the fleshy "Bucare Anuaco," in which a voluptuous orange flower occupies the center of the composition like a queen reclining on her throne. Jackowski plays beautifully with positive and negative space and has a masterful grasp of a notoriously difficult medium. She is able to convey a wide variety of textures and depths: some flowers are shiny and globular, others are soft and velvety.
There is a brooding, slightly disturbing quality to these paintings, many of which have dark purple of black backgrounds. But they can also be sweetly naive, as in the charmingly named "Las Hijas del Sol"(Daughters of the Sun), a glowing patch of small golden flowers. The artist herself says that she sees the paintings as portraits. One striking work, "Las Cintas," depicts a bright red flower with a feathery spray of petals. A spiraling yellow leaf hangs from the stem like a festive ribbon. According to Jackowski, the painting was inspired by the similarities she saw between the flower and a young woman with her hair tied back in a ponytail.