Aesthetics is the recognition that beauty is a function of both nature and art and may encompass aspects of everyday life more broadly. So, when the opportunity arose in downtime Haifa, to, as it were, experience a Sabbath from ordinary life, as Clement Greenberg and other aestheticians were wont to say, I was more than happy to acquiesce. The Painters & Sculptors Association offers a reprieve from the bustle of the city.My general impression was of a sense of a deep connection to the beauty of Haifa, a certain Judaic spirituality and a deep excavation of the emotional makeup of persons. This is said based on images that deal with the natural landscape as both symbolic of a higher order and at the same time a surreal portal into other dimensions.Consider Tamar Tzarkzik’s work wherein a sense of imminent fecundity appears – an egg that is about to crack and an opening about to be revealed.This sense of the ripeness of the present is further developed by Yossi Pimor’s sculptural images of a ram, where one senses a kind of essence – he has distilled the basic shapes à la Moore, and one feels the strength and presence (in the present) of the Ram, a symbol both of land in general and acceptance of the yoke, as it were. Most poignantly is the presentation of these forms as docile and passive and yet strong, for the ram and the sheep is guided by the shepherd; and the shepherd, after all, is a leader, such as the impersonation of King David.Another interesting sculptural piece was the “horses” by Levir Solomon, wherein a sense of animalistic desire, like the famed Equus, is yet tempered by a tenderness and gentleness.This polarity of severe, unarticulated and unbridled passion on the one hand and soft, calming reason on the other is, I intuit, explored in the painting by Sarah Segal, where a single abstract diagonal is yet surrounded by what appears to be water and what appears to symbolize sky. A sort of shimmering haze is induced, as abstract line amid sky and ground shimmers and vaporizes into nothingness. The effect is at once ethereal and invigorating.There were many images to contemplate on offer. I enjoyed the almost childlike, direct expression of Rinah Roneg, wherein one senses a pulsating energy to draw into paint, to utilize the perennial scribble as a drawing mechanism, to find and lose form and ultimately to allow the dark and light to form images, if only in the sense of memory and expressive impulse, rather than faithful copying and a dilution of the emotions.The effect works, and one gets the sense that the artist is experimenting not only in images but in terms of the limits of paint itself, and the tools to paint are themselves not a simple given, as the artist draws into paint and with paint, allowing its nature to, as it were, talk. This is essential, for the painting medium and the instruments of application are not transparent tools.Gone are the days of the gentleman painter – it is high time to break the boundaries to find new vistas. In many respects, some of the artists on show have attempted to do as such. Perhaps a theme that runs through this annual show is the love of Haifa. The overall green (of the great plethora of trees in this area) and beige (of Jerusalem stone and other building materials) is captured in the realist picture by Aaron Ariel: the beauty of nature, the winding hills and valleys of the North surrounded by the Mediterranean, and yet perched atop these summits is city life and the bustling epicenter of a city, that of Haifa.There is certainly an aesthetic charm here, and the combination of rock surface and human engineering is a sight to behold.