Edna Barnea conveys conflicting messages to her observers through her paintings that stimulate different layers of our private and historical memories. Here are images of dolls in delicate pastel shades, images with large open staring eyes, curls and dolls’ clothes. These dolls symbolize innocence and naivety, helplessness and passivity. The dolls are thrown or strewn on a background of images that the observer associates with the sights of the Holocaust, symbols of catastrophe and loss of life. Decapitated dolls’ heads hang in the air; a pile of dolls, like bodies, lying on a cart, a doll hanging upside down on a spiked barbed wire fence. The background for the colorful dolls is grey and cold. Skies without clouds. There are no human images. This is just a reminder that there were once children and another life.
Edna’s choice leaves the observer with a sense of sadness and conflicting emotions. Her picturesque manner of expression awakens a fierce sense of compassion towards the children who owned the dolls and who were actually helpless victims like the dolls that appear in the paintings. There is a conflict that the painter tries to transmit to the observer between the innocent childishness reflected in the painted dolls and the tragic horrors in the background.
The main thrust of her message does not seem to appear on the canvas but is actually a hidden message behind it. The artist tries to shock the observer and to arouse their emotions concerning the injustice, the crime that was committed against the whole of humanity, as reflected in the dolls that remained strewn behind, after the world was extinguished.
Dr. Tsipi Landau