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Published 2016-07-07

Dorota Branna, Printmaker

Mysterious stories about love and sexuality, culture and nature are the axis of Dorota’s art. Her main discipline is printmaking, but she also works in illustration and watercolour. She is passionate about Japanese culture, and her portraits of people, plants and animals are accompanied by enigmatic narratives. Apart from the Academy of Arts, Design and Architecture in Prague, Dorota studied Fine Art at the University of Toyama in Japan, where she discovered Japanese watercolour painting with raccoon and squirrel hair mops.


A series of four-colour lithographs exlores Japanese culture. Unagi, meaning eel, represents the relationship between male and female. The unagi symbolizes strength and masculinity, while the two women stand for the types of female character. Blossoming in the background, there is a sakura tree, which connects the story to the natural world. Antithetical to Unagi is a litograph called Momo. It expresses innocence and purity, which is what Momo, a Japanese peach, symbolizes. Oshidori  shows mandarin ducks - a symbol of love and faithfulness. In Dorota's lithograph, however, the love is challenged by incomprehension and melancholy, represented by the flowering wisteria.

   Left: Unagi, 2015, 23 x 20 cm, lithograph on paper   Right: Momo, 23 x 20 cm, lithograph on paper

In Japan, Dorota cultivated her passion for flowers and plants: “Every day, we had to bring a drawing of local products of nature to one of the lessons. Our master examined them very carefully. One day he decided we were fairly good at drawing them, and he challenged us: ‘From now on, count every single vein on the leaf and paint it - that is how precise it has to be!” recalls Dorota with a smile. Her watercolours such as Nigella, Costus and Foeniculum aim to follow the aesthetics of old herbariums, with a hint of modernity. Dorota uses special Japanese pigments and brushes to render them to the intricate detail.

Nigella - detail, 2015, 14 x 20 cm, watercolour on paper

Fanciful stories, sometimes Dorota’s own, are another theme of her works. The Tree of Dreams is a watercolour, and is inspired by one of Dorota’s favourite books, a novel by the Finnish author Mika Waltari, which it borrows its title from. It is a depiction of forbidden love, an intense sexual feeling happening on the background of the everyday world.

The Tree of Dreams, 2015, 20 x 14 cm, watercolour on paper

Cover photo: The Lithography Workshop of the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague (