Art: A personal take on the Bible

Carmela Weiss’s exhibition ‘White Raven’ is on display in Tel Aviv

Carmela Weiss’s exhibition ‘White Raven’ (photo credit: PR)
Carmela Weiss’s exhibition ‘White Raven’
(photo credit: PR)
Although she claims to be a disorganized person, Carmela Weiss runs her art studio with a keen and unusual sense of order. Paintings lie neatly stacked against one wall, an antique armchair stands sedately beside a coffee table, and 20-yearold tubes of paint lie side by side, color coded, in tidy baskets. On the far wall from the studio’s antique wooden door, a blank white page is tacked to the wall.
“Do you know how long that will be blank?” laughs Weiss. “For a very, very long time.”
Weiss hurries over to the kitchen to make a pot of jasmine tea, apologizing for what she regards as a mess. Youthful and exuberant, the bespectacled painter points out a series of portraits. In each, a gorilla is carefully depicted.
“Those weren’t part of any exhibition,” she explains. “I did them as research. I had to get to know the monkeys, to feel who they were, so I painted them. That way, I got to know each of them.”
The gorillas were a recurring theme in Weiss’s 2014 show “Like Water in Water.” To define the world in which they lived, Weiss tracked the monkeys to their imaginary village, creating detailed landscapes in her painting.
“An incredible thing about that show was that people asked me where the village was, where I had found it, as if it was a real thing. And it was something that I created,” she says.
Weiss’s current art exhibition, “White Raven,” opened last month and will run through late February at south Tel Aviv’s P8 Contemporary Art Gallery. Along the stark white walls of the space, Weiss has hung 18 pieces. The show was inspired by a journey into the stories of the Bible.
“I come from a place of no faith. I’m not for it or against it. I find the world of believers and religion fascinating. I wonder what it feels like to believe. I’m an artist, I draw, so all my questions come out that way,” Weiss explains.
“I was in the flea market and found an antique Bible. I picked it up and started reading it,” she recounts.
Weiss could not locate the exact Bible she spoke of, a source of great frustration for her, but went on to thumb through five additional Bibles she had picked up in the following months.
“Through reading, I came upon these interesting stories, words and moments. For example, how did Adam and Eve know what to do with Hevel’s body?” she continues.
Weiss goes on to explain that she went on a quest for answers to these questions, many of which are depicted in her paintings and collages. Most of the paintings are done on paper as opposed to canvas.
“Why paper?” Weiss asks. “The answer is that I found very good paper. It’s very nice to draw on paper. It is completely different from fabric.”
At the edges of the space hangs a series of images that have been printed on stone.
“Stone, how can I explain it? I didn’t know that I wanted to do this, and then one day the idea of printing on stone popped into my mind and I had to do it,” she says.
In one image, which Weiss feels is the center of the show, a woman is bathing in a pool as five shirtless men stand in front of her.
“This was the milestone of the exhibition. I wanted to reverse the story, in which the man selects a woman from a group. Here, she is the one who chooses from them,” she explains.
This play on biblical stories delights Weiss.
“I have a lot of inside jokes with myself in these paintings. They don’t interest anyone but me,” she admits.
Carmela Weiss’s exhibition ‘White Raven’ is on display until February 26 at P8 Contemporary Art Gallery, 1 Hapatish Street, Tel Aviv. For more information: