Tel Aviv potpourri

A review of the latest exhibitions in the city.

art 248.88 (photo credit: Guy Goldstein)
art 248.88
(photo credit: Guy Goldstein)
Without the explanatory notes written by the curator and distributed at the gallery for "Plunder" - an exhibition of installation art, sound and black-and-white drawings by Guy Goldstein (b. 1974, MFA Bezalel, 2007) - the spectator would be at a loss to comprehend the work's theoretical backbone and the intricacies that bring them together under one umbrella. The installation is an obscure display of several colored sheets of slightly scraped sky (plastic) draped over wooden frames hidden behind a simple wall and shelf with a phalanx of objects and plants scattered along its horizontal axis. The sky installation is illuminated by lamps clamped to the frames. Curator Leah Abir likens much of Goldstein's multimedia and multi-tech art to psychological and autobiographical layers - an idea difficult to absorb. On two walls Goldstein displays a series of graphite drawings on printed grid pages once used by students in grade school to create geometric designs by filling in the blank spaces. Goldstein has merely sketched images of birds, animals and people in a variety of genre scenes over the pale grid. This group of black-and-white renderings can be associated more with the artist's history and psychology, for they describe personal characteristics of fear, love, destruction, creation, life and death. The narrative portions of the drawings seem to have been taken from existing story-book illustrations, recycled and redrawn to fit the page. Some are better than others, but in the main they project a modest air. Chelouche Gallery, Rehov Chissin 5, Tel Aviv, (03) 528-9713. Until August 8. Jerusalem photographer Jerzy Michalowicz shows an outstanding set of 16 prints, "Jerusalem Fossil" (Photo-Sculpture 6), whose subject matter is divided in two: images of public walking surfaces (asphalt, sidewalks, gardens, etc.) and close-ups of raw Jerusalem stone. In both instances, he has photographed in natural light, during the summer months at midday when the direct sunlight creates the deepest and most dramatic shadows. The remarkable aspect of his pictures of natural stone is his talent to extract, using high-definition techniques, the changes that often take place within a single image. From rough textures and smooth planes to sharp ridge lines, concave recesses and caverns, the warm pictures emerge from their ebony abysses as if they were the brood of the Paleolithic era. To isolate the single volume in the black field, Michalowicz resorts to computerized programming. What appear to be black-and-white photographs are actually color prints, a darkroom method that brings out the maximum range of colors and textures. As I entered the gallery, my first reaction to Michalowicz's photographs was to notice the conceptual likeness to prints of a still life, "Pepper" (1930) and landscapes of Point Lobos (1929) by the great American photographer Edward Weston (1886-1958). The images are different, but the approach is uncannily similar. The Kibbutz Gallery of Israeli Art, Rehov Dov Hoz 25, Tel Aviv, (03) 523-2533. Until July 24. Watercolors, mixed media, batik and painted paper sculptures were created by Silvia Japkin for her show entitled "Books without Titles." The compositions lean toward illustration rather than complex paintings. Japkin's paintings are assembled from flat, unidentifiable books stacked on shelves, some rather traditional, others very contemporary. Looking only at the spines, the volumes are colorful and translucent without the slightest hint of texture or surface modeling, very sterile. In a way, her watercolors contradict Cicero's statement that "a room without books is like a body without a soul." Her hanging fabrics, painted or serigraphed on silk and cotton, are composed of the same flat, colorful, rectangular panels, standing upright as if stacked on a shelf. The most intriguing works in the exhibition are a dozen tonna- or nautilus-shaped forms constructed from printed paper. Occasionally, written material can be observed on the interior surface of the shell form. Japkin was born in Argentina, lived in Israel for a few years and then moved to Barcelona, were she currently resides. Cervantes Institute, Rehov Shulamit 7, Tel Aviv, (03) 527-9992. Until July 21.