A gut feeling

Delvoye displays a gallery of marvelously detailed renderings that parody a scientific syllabus with a radical's oblique thoughts.

March 23, 2006 18:21
4 minute read.
A gut feeling

sculpture 88. (photo credit: )

Maverick Belgian artist Wim Delvoye enlisted the aid of a battery of academics to create Cloaca, an apparatus based on the human digestive tract, force fed twice daily and which excretes convincingly realistic feces. Delvoye has left the gallery-sized device at home but shows a score of drawings of glass cylinders, digital temperature gauges and assorted tubing that describe in great detail how his phenomenal contraption actually works. Isometric sketches and two-point perspectives have been yoked together with freehand scribbling of critical data (bile, acid, agar, resorption, vacuum pump, intestine etc.) to create marvelously detailed renderings that parody a scientific syllabus with a radical's oblique thoughts. Although his drawings are crammed with uncomplicated explanations and charts of Cloaca's inner workings, they nevertheless relate to the Dada machinist style advanced by Frances Picabia back in 1915. Delvoye's biological parody of life and art takes a similar turn in miniature representations of a 12-wheel dump truck and a cement mixer. Both are constructed from ornamental frames of medieval filigree designs, fleur-de-lis and assorted lions, church spires and decorative columns, and are perfectly proportioned and assembled to scale. These intricate sculptures and other manufactured vehicles in their larger sizes have been described as metal doilies the size of a log cabin, yet their Gothic designs are draped in contemporary concepts and do not elicit any overt sympathy from the viewer. But when placed in urban parklands they are transformed into the metaphorical skyscrapers that are unavoidably allied with Gothic cathedrals. (Alon Segev Gallery, 23 Shaul Hamelech, Tel Aviv.) Till March 31. EVERY SPRING, Yadid Rubin, the enthusiastic painter from Kibbutz Givat Haim Ihud, exhibits a group of spanking new paintings. More expressionist than ever, his current batch of imaginary, multi-hued landscapes is crowded with the symbols that make Israeli agrarian life truly agrarian. Bulky tractors, tilled fields in parallel strips, dagger-like cypress and simple houses are reduced to their basic forms and illuminated by a blazing sun, sometimes a red orange, but more often a bright lemon yellow. Rubin's sparkling pink, lime, red, olive, ochre, black and white acrylics - brushed or applied with a palette knife or squirted onto the canvas directly from the tube - are enhanced by thick layers of gel whose association with Van Gogh's surfaces is an acknowledged influence. At times Rubin goes overboard by telegraphing compositions riddled with unnecessary globs and an array of saccharine colors that lead to uncontrolled decoration. In the main, however, he has managed for more than three decades to retain his Eretz Yisraeli attitude by maintaining and developing a defined pictorial kibbutz identity, while simultaneously expanding his painterly and illustrative mannerisms used to describe it. (Chelouche Gallery, 5 Chissin, Tel Aviv.) Till April 15. IN A celebration of anarchic violence laced with sadistic sex and dark humor, Keren Shpilsher pays homage to organized crime in a series of zany square-format acrylic paintings. Diabolical monsters, dehumanized humans, vicious animals, skulls and skeletons in varying sizes and distorted forms participate in a display of atrocities spread around without concern for structure or focus. These hysterical compositions are packed with frantic beings that are chased, murdered, raped or dismembered. But by resorting to comic book gestures and an incredible spectrum of energetic colors, Shpilsher elevates her subjects to a status of victim rather than perpetrator. In the lower gallery, Zoya Cherkassky exhibits The Avant-Gardists, seven pedestal-sized sculptures describing professionals that, amusingly, have no relationship to the avant-garde. Chef, butcher, pilot, surgeon, electrician, teacher and prostitute are grotesque figures whose large, masked heads and red, shark-like mouths of threatening white teeth are increased in size and proportion at the expense of bodies and limbs. Like her gallery mate, Cherkassky elevates the mundane into something bizarre and depraved. She has amputated the butcher's hands, cut off the chef's penis and reduced the prostitute to a pale pink chunk of breasts and vagina. Even the electrician and the pilot have been subjected to a callous narrative, the former sporting a tail in the form of an electric plug and the latter crucified on his aircraft's wings. (Rosenfeld Gallery, 147 Dizengoff, Tel Aviv.) Till March 25. SELDOM ARE we introduced to paintings and drawings created by two artists working in tandem. After a long illness and subsequent recovery, Mara Ben Dov began a concentrated gallery alliance with her son Yoav Ben Dov, a relationship that was inaugurated in her Ein Hod home and continued once a week for the past year at his Jaffa studio. The results of Mara and Yoav's combined effort is a hodgepodge of portraits, figurative compositions based on multi-colored contour lines, several delicate landscapes and a number of symbolic paintings surrounding a corrupted Star of David. An occasional flock of sheep or decorative installation adds a poetic blip to the hardcore content of persona. It is impossible to say who was responsible for what, but at times there does seem to be an obvious surface physicality, specifically hands in relief and shaved heads, that apparently has bound one activist to the other. Conceptually, Together is a grand idea and emotionally inspirational. Artistically, one would have welcomed something better. (Engel Gallery, 26 Gordon, Tel Aviv.) Till March 31.

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