Cut and paste, but by hand

The mezzanine gallery of the Jerusalem Artists House is often host to works of a slight nature.

By MEIR RONNEN
October 9, 2005 12:50
3 minute read.

The mezzanine gallery of the Jerusalem Artists House is often host to works of a slight nature. This time around, a show of recent works on paper by Igor Ganikowskij (b. Moscow, 1950, works in Germany) will doubtless be the center of interest for lovers of Malevich, Max Bill and artists of the De Stijl group, all of whom appear to have helped form Ganikowskij's basic approach. But unlike them, this artist's austere but pleasant minimalism is also a narrative vehicle. One of his German catalogs reveals a particular interest in acknowledging his parents and his Jewish beliefs. The most overtly Jewish pieces in this show are his variations on cut and folded pieces of paper painted with the stripes of a tallit. Not since the innovative Dutch minimalist Herman Zeinstra worked here in the early '70s have we seen works on paper that generate compositional interest with such a remarkable economy of means. Well worth a visit. PAST SHOWS by new members of the Jerusalem Artists Association were often the scene of a form of mass professional suicide. This season's admittance presentation is by just eight artists, all of whom are talented and know what they are doing. Some are veteran Jerusalemites. Four are Americans, the others from France and Israel. Jonathan Ofek, an expert in lost-wax bronze casting, does mini-sculptures formed of symbols from trees and simple Arab-style houses; they stand on butter plate-sized circular bronze mounds, in turn mounted on thin metal columns. Robert Azoff shows a subtle series of photo essays on the character of the forest and its floor, all with remarkable variations of focus. Veteran Jerusalemite Georgette Batlle, blessed with a fine hand, draws subtle variations of trees and also exhibits a few minimalist painted abstractions based on glimpses of sky seen through the canopy. Andi Arnovitz, who has worked at the Jerusalem Print Workshop, makes tapestry-like monoprints, some hung with threads, the latter not an original touch but nicely handled. Beautifully painted low-toned oils by Hanna Doukhan reveal that she was trained at the Jerusalem Studio School, for its graduates all paint pretty much the same way, in a style popular at art schools nearly a century ago. Doukhan's well-composed tabletop still-lifes are particularly well brought off, but despite being first class, have little new to say. Rather more interesting if less subtle are Abba Richman's eye-catching combinations of photography and paint. Richman concentrates on the poetry to be found in the poorer corners of downtown Jerusalem. Ben Simon shows large monochrome drawings of over-large grotesques barely contained by the frame, all of them with great presence. And there are freehand variations by Oded Seidel on what appears to be a view of a settlement, rendered as a near abstraction in monochrome washes. TWO ADJOINING galleries are filled with monochrome photographs by Yitzhak Simon, all of Jerusalem streets and types, many of the prints being low-angle shots distorted by the lens. Simon also employs short depth of focus, thus accenting either foreground or background content. Biblical quotations lettered beneath each print add nothing to their impact. DOWNSTAIRS IN the entrance gallery, recent Musrara School graduate David Amuyal shows technically impressive color prints, chiefly of half-naked boys; it's clear that his work has been influenced by the success of Adi Ness, who poses campy young men and is a favorite of gay dealers. In Amuyal's Wonderful Childhood, the sex is more ambiguous: are the two boys in white underwear dueling for the favors of the little girl in the background? Or are they deliberate pinups? (All shows at the Jerusalem Artists House, 12 Shmuel Hanagid) Till September 18.


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