Art Review: Avivit Ballas Baranes, Haifa

Curator Shirley Meshulam alerted me to the fact that these drawings are processed from the original and are a product of the computer.

One of the works at Avivit Ballas Barnes (photo credit: Courtesy)
One of the works at Avivit Ballas Barnes
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Drawn from the archive of the artist Avivit Ballas Baranes, this exhibition is a collage-like assemblage of drawings and paintings, computer prints and scannings. Titled “Research Wall” one might construct (or create) the narrative that the wall is a clue to a deeper, personal and biographical understanding. Her style is energetic yet contained in a flurry of lines and sometimes intense color. One could see the wall as the colossal point of energy that then gives rise and births to the larger, yet fewer works that flank the wall collage.
So, what does the wall mean? It reminds one of the ways a detective might put clues on the wall and piece the information together to reconstruct the past and determine what the clues are or even who they might thus indicate. Clues are signs that when correctly understood refer to something else – they are portals to other worlds. Words and images present an absent (a referent) when an aesthetics of signs is present. Such musings might be indicated by this weird assemblage – the wall.
Curator Shirley Meshulam alerted me to the fact that these drawings are processed from the original and are a product of the computer. So, then the clues after-all are on a surface to the reality “beneath.”
And then one cannot see and there is a sound audio with a beautiful poem by the artist that seems to refer to a future time of peace, when the earth perhaps will start anew and that things will change for the better. Generally, change is seen as a source of great fear, yet the artist’s parents were artists and intellectuals who obviously influenced her in seeing some of the complexities of life, and issues of identity as it pertains to the Middle East and Europe (there is a clue on the wall where we see the bare boundaries of Israel in black ink).
The wall as an archive (together with the illustrations that are on a table under the glass top) is an introspective analysis of self, where it is unclear if a definitive answer is possible. We see in one of the main images the influence of Paul Cezanne’s The Bathers perhaps influenced by her mother’s doctorate thesis years earlier. The figure faces a strange abstract configuration in black. One does not know what this “object” could be. Whether benign or not, the encounter it seems is when the answer to the wall of the “whodunit” is now revealed. The artist thus appears to uncover the image beneath images, that which defines a thing as a thing. The fact that the wall and its’ “emanations” indicate research implies that the detective work of sifting and sorting as is research is the attempt to bring forth new knowledge. Of course, this new knowledge is then further developed, possibly refuted or applied.
Such an exhibition on contemporary art in Israel is in a mall! This is a brave move in order to perhaps tantalize many and ignite an interest in art. Art that is perhaps not easy or traditional but provokes alternative ways of engaging with the world. For art offers perhaps something that is not just fashion. On the other hand, from the internal debates of art theorists and artist’s one cannot claim arts’ transcendence of mass culture. I would go a step further and claim that art may be found in and even as the mall.          
The exhibition runs through January 7 at the Ofer Grand Kenyon mall.


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