Listening to art

The Mus(E)ic exhibition connects the performing arts with the visual arts and the world of music.

Tamar Eytan’s ‘The Grieving Women,’ (photo credit: Courtesy)
Tamar Eytan’s ‘The Grieving Women,’
(photo credit: Courtesy)
 Noga Arad-Eilon is all for her employers’ generic cultural approach.
“It all comes from the founders [of the Jerusalem Theater],” she explains. “They said, ‘We are building a complex for the performing arts which will aim to generate something of a total cultural experience. We are not just a place that hosts an event in an auditorium, rather you come to a place that is a “happening,” that offers you a whole sequence of events.’” That interdisciplinary ethos is front and center at the Mus(E)ic exhibition, curated by Arad-Eilon, which opened in the theater foyer last Friday and will run until October 4. The text that greets the members of the public includes a pertinent quote from Russian painter and art theorist Wassily Kandinsky, who is credited with painting the world’s first abstract works. Kandinsky noted: “Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the harmonies, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul.”
Kandinsky’s cross-genre mutually fueling sentiment comes through, to varying degrees, in all of the 60 or so works in the show.
Nessim Zayalet’s Guitar and Notes oil painting, for example, harks back to the days of surrealism but the focus of the picture is the center of a guitar, which clearly conveys the idea of playing music.
Then again, Mushon Choresh’s deliberately blurry monochrome photograph is a little more difficult to pin down, although the title – Invitation to Dance – does give the game away.
The exhibits include paintings in a variety of styles, sculptures, photographs, ceramics and charming embroidery. One of the more seemingly common or garden exhibits is a delightfully playful tetraptych by Jerusalemite artist Gila Elyashar-Stocklisky, who took the “art inspired by music” concept quite literally. “I have been a subscriber to the Israel Philharmonic for years, but in concerts or lectures I have to doodle,” she declares. “I take the program of a concert and I start to draw. I’ve got hundreds of them in my studio.”
It was time to put some of the fruits of her concert-going visually aesthetic endeavor on display. “When I read the call for people to send in entries for the exhibition, I decided it was time to offer something of mine. If they didn’t take it, it wouldn’t be the end of the world.”
Elyashar-Stocklisky got down to business and began to embellish her doodles, bunching a few of them together into a visual continuum. “It’s sort of like the frieze they have running along the side of the pulpit in a church,” she muses. “So I started from scratch – actually not from scratch, because I had [the memory of] the music I heard in the concert in the background.”
Considering she is contributing to a cultural event that feeds off a mix of artistic avenues of expression, it is a bit surprising to hear that Elyashar-Stocklisky ignores the visual spectacle in the concert hall to concentrate on her own creation. “I’m not interested in looking at a bunch of people in bow-ties and suits; I’m interested in the music they are making. And what I draw does not have to have anything to do with the theme of the concert.”
Even so, the four decorated programs of the IPO concerts in the aptly titled Windows onto a Musical Dream ink and acrylic fourparter eminently fit the Mus(E)ic bill. “Kandinsky once said that he matches a color to each musical instrument,” says Elyashar- Stocklisky. “That seems natural to me.”
For Arad-Eilon, there is a natural ebb and flow between the various artistic disciplines. “As a curator, I try to find connections between the various events that take place in our auditoriums and what people see hanging on the walls here in the foyer,” she says. The idea is also to make the works of art as accessible as possible to the ordinary Itzik or Rahel on the street, and to source works from the same level of the social echelon and cultural mind-set. It is a sort of “art for the people, by the people” philosophy.
“These are predominantly artists who come from the community, not museum-oriented artists,” says the curator. “Museum-oriented artists generally don’t like to exhibit in public spaces. They call museum visitors ‘a captive audience,’ but I like putting on exhibitions here.
“There is something of a dialogue going on here. We expose artists from the community to the public, and we also introduce the community to art. People come here for a concert but they’ll come half an hour earlier, so they have time to look at the exhibition we have on at the time.”
And there is plenty for community members to see in Mus(E)ic. “There is such a range of works in this exhibition,” observes Arad-Eilon. “I think the beauty of this exhibition is in the spread of interpretations the artists have portrayed of music and art in general.
There are no two works that are similar here. Each of the exhibitors came with his or her own muse.”
One of the more striking works comes from a neighbor, nonagenarian artist Tamar Eytan, who lives in a senior citizens’ home a couple of hundred meters up the road from the theater complex. Her contribution is a fetching set of four stone statuettes, which seem to feed off Canaanite-style sculpture forms from over two millennia ago. The work is called The Grieving Women, and the anguish is not difficult to spot. Each of the mourners has a musical instrument at the ready.
Like the music we hear, the exhibits incorporate a wide range of shades, colors and textures. Swiss-born Israeli artist Yvonne Livay’s work, for example, which goes by either of two names – Breakfast in Black and White or Musical Moments – comprises a mug and a bowl on a round base, all of which are deftly inscribed with texts from the Scriptures. The work is made of papier maché, glue, spray paint and ink, although it looks like it was made of fabric.
There are also plenty of light moments in the exhibition, from Daniella Wexler’s ready-made work of a psychedelic wall hanging comprising 40 brightly colored LPs, to Amiram Dubnov’s energized photograph The Red Dress, and Motka Bloom’s beguiling higgledy-piggledy amalgam of musical instruments and high-tech add-ons.
It’s well worth getting to the Jerusalem Theater a little early for your next show or movie there. •