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Veteran painter Moshe Gershuni has been searching for some time for a way to re-articulate his painting. From his early conceptual pieces and family-related works to a soldier's grisly proclamations on parchment, he has rambled on in a number of options without coming to grips with any of them.
Now however, Gershuni's current display of vigorous abstractions indicates a major change of direction, and an accomplished one at that. The gallery is packed with a score of large canvases, most measuring 2.50 x 1.80m. and deliberately hung edge to edge. Smeared in broad swipes of black and white translucent washes, his textural fields are accentuated by the addition of deep bordeaux and globs of acrylic gel.
The late American critic Harold Rosenberg once asserted that a painting is inseparable from the biography of the artist and the painting itself is a moment in the adulterated mixture of his life. Recently diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, Gershuni has refrained from the arduousness of tickling his canvases with minutiae. His dialogue with paint is a sweeping statement derived from the existentialism of the abstract expressionists, especially the craggy surfaces of Clyfford Still. The gallery circular misguidedly points to Gershuni's closeness to European old masters, but the only illusions Gershuni alludes to are the duality of life and death, of bleeding and permanence, the sublime and the bizarre.
Gershuni's paintings are turbulent expressions of an emotional state. Sometimes the drips, scars and scabs flicker and dance and at others are torn asunder in a frenzy of outpourings of the self projecting a picture of pain. (Givon Art Gallery, 35 Gordon, Tel Aviv.) Till July 29.
JERUSALEM LANDSCAPE painter Michael Kovner is the third and probably last guest curator for the Bineth Gallery's series Elections 2006.
Enthusiastically devoted to the landscape of Israel, Kovner decided to invite four artists who would provide a similar feeling for the subject he has spent his life surveying. The result is Flora & Fauna, a display that explores the relationships between persona and content in a range of ritualistic, political, impressionist and figurative mannerisms.
A group of works on paper by the late Avraham Ofek probes the spirit of man rather than his biological entity. Ofek renders man and beast as partners in the development of the land. He depicts them not as master and slave but as unbound equals in performing their daily tasks. From his large socialist-oriented public murals to the small works in this show, Ofek spent his career interpreting the ritualistic and ceremonial qualities of Israeli life via their social and biblical aspects.
Tsibi Geva expands the subject into a geo-political arena of caged birds, thistles and wire fences, but they all project the same precarious humanist position. Geva's fence provides a theoretical message that keeps antagonists out but protagonists in. His pictures of thistles advocate a metaphorical message by providing a menacing political entity that, despite its cultured environment, survives in the wild.
Yadid Rubin blends an extensive palette of expressive hues to illustrate the environs of his home kibbutz. Generally, his paintings take on a textural and decorative appearance as acrylic gel is used as a formal technique. A black tree in low relief, embedded in a field of mottled deep viridian, is illuminated by a yellow moon, a work reminiscent of the American romantic painter Albert Pinkham Ryder. For many years Farida Goldbahar has painted her impressions of dense fields and thickets of flowers, achieving a lushness of local color. The former are handled as overall manifestations of nature, devoid of horizon lines, sky and ground. On occasion, her floral arrangements lose their natural identity and are transposed into linear abstractions.
Kovner's choice of his own paintings are Grapefruit Tree and Cowshed in the Morning, both testaments to his umbilical attachment to an agrarian, communal upbringing on Kibbutz Ein Hachoresh. Choreographed in a full range of viridian, olive, orange and yellow, his ripe fruit peeps out of the leafy boughs in the mid-day sun as Kovner investigates the dappling effects of light on matter. Then his massive stoical bovine form has become his considered symbol for fortitude and patience. (Bineth Gallery, 15 Frishman, Tel Aviv.) Till July 31.
IN HIS first one-person exhibition outside Tokyo, Yasui Tomotaka shows several life-size sculptures of human figures, a few dogs and several rabbits. The focus, however, is on several standing females in formal dress, executed with infinite care using a demanding, multi-surface, Japanese lacquer technique.
As if frozen in time, Tomotaka's works exude a sense of solid tranquility that projects an emotional state contrasted with the frenetic style of modern urban culture. Unlike the popular contemporary Japanese cartoon styles of anime and manga, Tomotaka telegraphs his anti-western position by adopting one of his country's most ancient and traditional means of expression, where substance is united with the artist's spirit in one form.
In many ways, Tomotaka's pedantic manner echoes the stylized genre figures of the early American modernist Elie Nadelman, but are they definitely unlike the hyper-realist figures of Duane Hanson, who compels us to take a critical look at the grotesqueness of our lives. Tomotaka's message leans towards the rational and the subdued. His gestureless, tight-lipped figures staring into space are like manufactured dolls, emotionless and unaware of their surroundings. Curiously, the spectator looks upon the sculpted forms with the same indifference. (Braverman Gallery, 81 Yehuda Halevy, Tel Aviv.) Till July 20.
ROUGH AND tumble brushing is at the core of a series of small, indifferent paintings of children and infants by Alejandro Goldberg. Having studied figurative painting and drawing at the Jerusalem Studio School, his work, in its alla prima application of paint and its apparent underpinning of family-style humor, has distanced itself from the seriousness and rational refinement for which this teaching institution has become famous.
A mix of coarse pigment describing a variety of a child's gestures and basic anatomy, surrounded by thinly applied colors, is the painterly mannerism used by Goldberg in most of his compositions. His major piece is La Fiesta en Sitges, a panoramic summertime view of several four- and five-year-olds painted as inflated dolls, cavorting in a swimming pool adjacent to a grassy lawn, with tilled fields in the background. Obvious to the point of being ludicrous, Goldberg has inserted all the trappings of an imaginary realism including cake, rubber duck and even a little boy peeing into the pool. (Gallery 33, 33 Yehuda Halevy, Tel Aviv.) Till July 20.