Discussions with myself (photo credit: Courtesy)
Discussions with myself
(photo credit: Courtesy)

Jerusalem art exhibit shows the many, varied faces of women


The current exhibition of Ruth Cohen’s paintings presented in the portico of the Jerusalem Theater deals with the many and varied faces of the female being as it is translated into Cohen’s canvases.

In her book Goddesses in Everywoman, Jean Shinoda Bolen draws attention to the fact that women are not aware of the influence of powerful forces and archetypes that work within them. Dr. Bolen presents seven personality types, seven archetypal goddesses with whom every woman can identify and who, looking closely at Cohen’s diverse paintings, can also be recognized in her personality and multifacetedness: Artemis, the goddess of the hunt and the moon, embodies the independent and accomplished female spirit. Athena, the goddess of wisdom and art, represents the logical and self-confident woman. Hestia, the goddess of the hearth, embodies the patient and stable woman who is surrounded by a sense of wholeness. Hera, the goddess of marriage, Demeter, the goddess of grain, represents the woman’s drive to provide physical, emotional and spiritual support to her children. Persephone, the goddess of the underworld, expresses the woman’s tendency toward submission and tolerance and the desire to please others and be desired by them. Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, prompts women to fulfill their creative abilities.

Ingenuity and creativity, rationality and emotion, the woman as a mother, as a wife, the healer and the priestess connected to the spirit world – all the various qualities take shape on Cohen’s painting canvases through a variety of styles and subjects with which she deals.

Painting the many faces of women

For example, in the paintings of the mother nursing her child and the adult woman looking at the horizon through the window, she chooses the realistic painting style, with quiet and restrained colors and a well-constructed composition in which there is order and organization and withdrawal.

In the painting of the courtship and the couple’s dance, there is a joie de vivre and creativity that erupts through color and movement, in quick brushstrokes and in an atmosphere that expresses the spirit of playfulness and erupting youth. In the self-portrait wearing the crown, there is a combination of styles, between realism and abstract, when the gaze of the figure, which supposedly turns to the viewer, actually expresses looking inward, to a woman sitting in the center, a crown on her head , a mature woman who knows who she is and is aware of her power as the queen mother. 

 Childhood fantasy (credit: Courtesy)
Childhood fantasy (credit: Courtesy)

So is the drawing of the whole family together, with the mother and father drawn in the center of the picture. And the mother in particular symbolizes the pillar around which the whole family gathers, the tree firmly planted in the ground from which the branches and fruits grow.

In the paintings of the heads of animals and clowns, a turbulent figure appears, which allows herself to give expression to her passions, desires, animality and the spirit of nonsense. These are paintings in which the moods and sides of the artist’s personality are expressed and are freed from social conventions, habitual and wild. The warm colors, the colors of fire, the great diversity of the techniques and the free brush strokes stand out. The works have an abundance of expressiveness, boldness, and are bursting joy.

The multiplicity as a statement, the diversity in the choice of subjects, taken from the cycle of the artist’s personal life, even though they are taken from her own life, have the potential to express a universal statement regarding femininity as a whole.  ■

The writer is curator of the exhibition at the Jerusalem Theater, 20 David Marcus Street, Jerusalem. The exhibition extends from April 30 to May 31, 2023.

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