Art Review: ZOA American Zionist House

July 27, 2019 22:06
3 minute read.
Art Review: ZOA American Zionist House

LIANA SAXONE-HORODI’S expressive paintings. (photo credit: DANNY SHORKEND)

Group Exhibition
ZOA American Zionist House,
Tel Aviv Curator: Vitalina Moukhin Until September 1

The title of this exhibition, “Chaim” (life), includes a diverse interpretation of the theme. “Life” here can refer to the immanence of the life-force; meditations on death and rebirth, on religious transcendence; on the power of nature and the clash and coming together of various forces, both subjective and objective. As one spends some time among the artworks, one gets a sense of the vitality of the creative act itself, perhaps the highest expression of life. While science may objectify and quantify the subject as an object, it is to art perhaps that one may find that inner calling to meaning, deep relationship and that which escapes easy quantification and categorization.

Curator Vitalina Moukhin’s vision is to promote her stable of artists and she has brought together a wide-ranging gathering of Israeli artists to respond to the theme in a well-presented exhibition at a venue where the lighting and space maximizes the viewer’s experience. Some of the images I enjoyed were Leora Eger-Dreyfuss’s photographs of the wild; Ilia Armonofsky’s Judaic paintings; Sagi Erez’s combination of realism and the abstract; and Liana Saxone-Horodi’s expressive painting style among others.

Eger-Dreyfuss has captured a beautiful male lion with its prey. It appears intimate and as the lion looms large in the grass, one gets a sense of the magnificence of nature. The beige of the lion and the green-yellow grass form a strong aesthetic combination and yet it seems at the extreme of both danger and beauty at the same time. Life is harsh at times and yet also subtle as her picture of a zebra and her young perhaps softens the image of the lion.

Armonofsky’s paintings are a sort of celebration of Jewish life: prayers at the Western Wall with the ark and Torah; Sukkot festivities, dancing and friendship. While the imagery is such that the figures are all generalized and lack individuality, a sort of group consciousness, it is the repetition of hats and prayer shawls, of the strict geometries of the wall and outlines of figures that contribute to a rhythmic pattern and going beyond individual subjectivities to commune with that which is higher and find expression as a social entity. The flatness of the picture plane creates a sense of rich dynamism as everything is reduced to a pattern of sorts.

Erez’s work is a curious confluence of different worlds as faces peer out of rich and deep reds, pinks and orange abstract formations. There is a sense that the shimmering colors give way to the more pensive faces that break what would otherwise be an abstract field of color. There is thus a kind of battle between the self and thoughts and emotions (translated as an abstract field on color) as the self tries to assert itself amid conflicting and difficult situations. It is thus uncertain whether the “abstract” or the “realist” shall win the day. Perhaps it is the potential harmony between the inner and outer worlds that can be achieved, if only one navigates with a measure of both a sense of one’s freedom and a certain sensitivity to the journey that is life.

I am quite sure that the viewer will find works of art that speak, a language that resonates with his/ her inner world. Saxone-Horodi’s work for example is certainly food for contemplation where figuration, abstraction and simplified form create interesting surface features. How one will then interpret it is open of course. That is the bounty of art: How the visual gives way to the world of ideas and from that place potentially at least gives meaning to life. This is certainly a necessary elixir to the often painful and existential difficulty that besets the individual on the journey of life, and it is the creative and imaginative that may release the soul from the constraints of such a predicament.

Well worth a visit in the heart of Tel Aviv.

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