Music as inspiration for visual arts

The ‘Mus(e)ic’ exhibition brings its striking notes to the Jerusalem Theater.

Arie Azene’s abstract work, ‘Chamber Paintings.’ (photo credit: Courtesy)
Arie Azene’s abstract work, ‘Chamber Paintings.’
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Stepping into the Jerusalem Theater over the next few weeks, expect to experience a fascinating and alluring artwork series encompassing a wide range of subjects.
Located not merely in one space, but throughout the hallways of the Jerusalem Theater complex, “Mus(e)ic” flows differently than the usual exhibition.
Running until January 16, the exhibition accompanies the theater’s third annual Piano Festival, which was held last month. The works of art on display, varying in medium from painting to photography to sculpture, were selected from a wide range of submissions on the exhibition’s musical theme.
United purely by their theme, the works in the exhibition take the viewer on a journey that provides a rich variety of insights and experiences, from the abstract to the visceral.
One of the more well-known artists on display is Jerusalem- based Arie Azene, whose abstract work Chamber Paintings utilizes four different tones of color, correlating conceptually to the typical four-instrument structure of a chamber group, as the source of inspiration for his works.
Walking around the exhibition with Azene, one values the wisdom and experience that emanate from every word of a man whose life encompasses the days before Israel’s founding, having immigrated from Germany with his parents in 1934.
“What I tried to do is adapt the rules of chamber music into visual art,” he explained, detailing how the need for unity, as opposed to an excess of solos, served as the inspiration for the canvasses on exhibition.
Azene’s work is striking in its simplicity. One is immersed into the visions that he creates, colors mixing with one another in search of something that remains, even after surveying the paintings intensively, tantalizingly elusive.
Progressing through the exhibition, one marvels at the contrast between the works, from pieces by veteran artists such as Azene to offerings from more recent Israeli artists such as Yael Brandt – all combining to cause constant reassessment of the varying approaches to depicting music.
Brandt’s staggering Piano Parts is an explosive piece of art – a “big bang” of piano keys – with a seemingly endless flow of keys used to create a galaxy that hangs down from the ceiling of the theater hall. The 400 piano keys of the piece seem to convey the manic nature of the creative process, deconstructing the piano and presenting it at its most basic: an instrument that when taken apart is nothing, but has the potential to become something when made whole.
Throughout the theater complex, the sheer variety of the artwork on display is fascinating: from quilts to works such as a mixed-media canvas by Shahar Sinai, which uses sesame seeds and coconut to create a captivating image of a screaming child.
Another must-see at the exhibition is an extraordinary canvas by Tel Aviv-based artist Assaf Basson. A filmmaker by profession, Basson started working as a painter only six months ago, but instead of the expected brush, uses credit cards as his work tool. The work on display was created while listening to techno music, evident in the pumping vivacity of the expressive colors in the piece.
“Mus(e)ic” provides compelling perspectives of the power of art to convey both the manifestations and experience of music, with 63 artists and a single work by each on display.
As curator Noga Arad-Ayalon puts it, “It can appeal to everybody, because in the exhibition each person can find a work that appeals to them and speaks their language.”