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In-tense exhibition

The exhibition “In-tense” is the first in a series of shows presenting Israeli artists, young in both years and spirit, whose works span a wide range of the impulses that motivate contemporary art. These artists are among the key participants on the Israeli art scene, contributing to its diversity. Their works have been presented in central galleries and museums, and they have been discussed in articles, catalogues, and prominent magazines. Yet they do not rest easy with these achievements and their significance with regard to status or practical matters; instead, they take care to remain driven by attentiveness to the states of mind and state of affairs in the world today, as well as to the disposition and languages of contemporary art. Their alertness is a result of the tense socio-political environment and historical context in which they pursue their art. It is equally a product of the awareness and tension inherent in the vitality of the artistic pursuit itself. Their works offer an  esthetic whose appearance entails a sense of movement – be it illusory or as time travel toward mythical moments or powerful memories, either personal or collective ones. The inclination toward the past is accompanied, at times, by journeys
to the future, which are indicated by materials, colors, and images that refer to cinematic science-fiction simulations, as in the works by Eitan Ben Moshep. 37, Elad Koplerp. 13, or Elad Laromp. 17. The works of art on view demonstrate the many  facets of contemporary art. They include figurative and abstract images as well as references to historical images and to the contexts of modern and contemporary art, as in Hilla Toony Navok’sp. 11 paintings and drawings. Also prevalent are references to crafts, textures and texts identified with popular, ethnic, often feminine cultural pursuits, as exemplified in the paintings and installations by Ester Schneider p. 29 and Elham Roknip. 21. All of the above is rendered by a variety of
means, including painting, sculpture, photography, video, animation, and installation. Many of the works combine several mediums, often referring to fields not merely associated with visual art, such as music, architecture (Gil Marco Shani’sp. 39 works), body art (Yifat Bezalel’s p. 31 drawings and video), or design (Valery Bolotin’s p. 19 photographs). These works present both the conceptual, reserved aspects of contemporary art (Dror Daum’sp. 9 works) and its carnivalesque aspects (Gili Avissar’s p. 15 installations). The profound gazes which art today turns on the languages, means, images and crafts of peripheral communities are also evident in the works of Israel’s finest artists. However, in their case these are also associated with issues such as their mother-tongue and memories of their parental homes – whether as expressions of a personal, intimate world or of a sense of belonging to a multinational society and a culture of immigrants. The show comprises works that refer
to Russian visual culture – Masha Zusman’sp. 25 works, for instance, contain references to Byzantine icons – alongside images, figures and ornaments of Israeli communities of immigrants from Iraq, Iran and Russia. David Adika’sp. 23 photographs invoke the memories, colors, singing, and mythical figures of Mizrahi Jews, while Hanna Saharp. 27 turns her gaze on women and Iraqi notions of feminine beauty. As the golden hues of oriental ornamentation encounter the sparkle of Byzantine icons, two different eastern cultures seem to signal to one another from afar in the exhibition. The meeting between far-off homelands is often compounded by local outlines, such as the local landscape’s abstract forms (as in Yossi Breger’s cover photographs), or vague references to heart-rending historical events. In Giyora Bergel’s p. 35 paintings, for instance, ships enveloped in pallor are juxtaposed with a processed image of the last photograph taken of the INS Dakar before it  isappeared into the depths of the sea in 1968. From this perspective, Israeli art seems to take up the historiographic pen and inscribe the history of its land. But at the same time it also proceeds to abstract regions, removing the viewers from the range at which painful circumstances may affect them while inflaming their fervor with the heat of artistic endeavor.
Sarit Shapira