September 1 - October 29, 2011
Featuring: Boaz Aharonovitch, Matan Ben Tulila, Yael Bronner Rubin, Sol Erez, Bar Faber, Keren Gueller, Bosem Harel, Adi Nachshon, Liav Mizrahi, Amir Tomashov, Lior Wilentzik
Curator: Nogah Davidson
The exhibition deals with the subject of "Horror Vacui" through different formalistic, conceptual and symbolic interpretations. The term was initially coined by Aristotle as theory in physics which says that nature abhors a vacuum, and therefore empty space would always be trying to suck in gas or liquids to avoid being empty. In the 20th century the term was used by Italian art critic Mario Praz, to describe the opulence of Victorian décor- a style which articulated the degenerated times of the Victorian era. Since then the term has been accepted in Art theory to describe an artistic style which fills the surface of the work completely and obsessively, as an expression of the artist's fear of empty space in his work.
The exhibition "Vacuum" wishes to explore the subject from a contemporary perspective that goes beyond formalistic definitions. Consequently in addition to the various mediums and formalistic interpretations to the term, one may also find psychological, social, personal and critical aspects which depict the many ways we try to fill the voids in our lives. Hence the exhibition stresses the direct link between form and the idea that led to the final visualization of the work. In addition, the overall visual effect of the exhibition moves between various measures of visual density, sickly colors and a sense of heaviness.
Liav Mizrahi's works are made of reproductions of touristic sites in Israel and Europe which he covers in black stains, at times only with a symbolic spot and in others covering almost the entire surface of the photograph. Beyond the initial reference to a black void, the works deal with the concept of history and how it is capitalized. The black spots create an undermining effect to the legacy these historical sites wish to convey, whether in context of a local civilian who is aware of the actual reality that takes place in these sites or in a provincial context of a peripheral- born man who challenges the Eurocentric outlook.
Boaz Aharonovitch also deals with the subject of place and memory. However while Mizrahi erases; Aharonovitch intervenes in the photographic original through an act of condensation, in which he adds many layers of the image of the same place into a unified mass. What is more, the work on hand is comprised of a series of images of different places, which dissolve one into the other. Therefore even though Aharonovitch seemingly photographs existing places, in fact his intervention creates "non- places" which may be reminiscent of an Israeli flora but it is overloaded into impossibility.
The magazine paper in the two works by Bar Faber goes through different formalistic changes, with the scanner used as a recording device for the various stages of transformation which the same piece of paper undergoes. If one draws a conceptual line between Faber to the endless landscapes of Boaz Aharonovitch, and the erased sites of Liav Mizrahi, the chromo reproduction of the Faber's landscape is reordered, multiplied and redefined time and time again, therefore creating another breach in the classification of "landscape" as a distinct place.
Another "non- place" may be found in the works of Matan Ben Tulila. His fantastical, strangely colored sceneries are often covered by provisional forms of habitat which function as an indication to a human presence that is absent from the paintings. This human absence is especially evident in perspective of the artificiality of these unnaturally colored landscapes. Consequently what is predominantly evident in these works is the artist's hand and unique eye through which he filters the world that surrounds him.
An interesting contrast to the latter are Amir Tomashov's architectural models, created as a visual interpretation to Orly Kastel Bloom's apocalyptic apparition of Tel Aviv in her book "Dolly City". The layered, dense urban network which Tomashov presents spreads like a fatal cancer upon the city plan, the weight of modern life collapses into itself and a furious prophecy about the man- eating metropolis roars out.
Modern day threats are also the subject of Yael Bronner and Lior Vilentzick, with material- capitalistic abundance at the forefront. Bronner's still life's combine natural and artificial objects displayed as glamorous and desirable fetishistic artifacts. Thus the useless sculptures, ornaments and "Brick-a-brack" that fill many a home, are grouped together in her work so as to create a heavy mass of intolerable beauty.
Lior Vilentzick's digital collage is made of details from photographs taken in a Kibbutz in the north of the country, from which she created a cartoon like image of an eye ball. The cartoon-like image, combined with the look of a defected "Club Med" commercial, creates a tension with the source of the photographed image (the Kibbutz). Hence Vilentzick aims at all targets- from the socialist values that the country was founded on to the capitalist values that replaced them.
In Sol Erez's photograph, a plain garbage-can filled with colorful sticky notes appears to become a dynamic object filled with movement. Considering Aristotle's theory, it seems the work illustrates a process of suction into an infinite and essential hole. Symbolically, the garbage-can represents the quintessential void, in the sense that whatever is thrown out is considered worthless and redundant. The empty notes in the work function as decorative elements designed to manipulate the work's color and composition and therefore they lack their original purpose to remind, systematize and organize the turmoil of information and tasks to perform.
Keren Gueller is showing two works that propose different aspects associated to "Horror Vacui". In the first, she photographed a spider that got caught in a bucket in her backyard and is trying to get out. The reflection of trees in the water that is seen when the spider stops moving is constantly broken every time he moves, as if there's a battle between the spider and the image that he's disrupting. Thus the viewer's focus diverts from one to the other, raising artistic questions such as object- background relations.
In Gueller's second work, thirty of her family members and their friends stand inside a children's pool and repeatedly duck down, rise again and laugh out loud. The work is part of a body of work in which Gueller explores family relations and their conflictual nature, as they can be both holding and constraining at once. Thus the joyous and ostensibly bonded group in the video becomes a homogeneous unit that threatens to consume or obliterate any sign of individuality.
Although Bosem Harel's paintings also have a biographic element, it is materialized in a different, more distant approach. Her close circle is represented by metaphorical characters such as the Victorian lady and the shrieking bird exhibited in the show. The emotional baggage related to the characters depicted is enhanced through the artist's expressive and dark style of painting and her decision to frame the works in baroque style.
Adi Nachshon's hybrids are part of the artist's gothic, fantastical world of monstrous creatures. For this exhibition Nachson made two hybrid creatures which cross between the head of vultures, the torso of Doberman bitches and the legs of giraffes. Their menacing gaze downwards, as if they are looking for their next prey and the athletic torso is contrasted by the fragile looking slender legs, which can doubtfully carry such a weight.
Review, "Vacuum", Smadar Sheffi, Haaretz, 16.9.11 (In Hebrew)