The title “Dense” relates to the current cluster of exhibitions and projects, which features works created in a range of techniques and concerned with different themes. What these works all share is an engagement with the Latin term horror vacui (fear of the void), which pertains to the artist’s fear of the empty white support.
This exhibition cluster includes acrylic paintings by Yossi Waxman’s, which are characterized by thick layers and a bold palette; intensive pencil drawings and pencil sculptures by Shelly Roichman; works by Shir Moran that were created on cow skins; Julian Chagrin Video work, and a unique work by the Hungarian artist Rudolf Pacsika, who is staying in Ein Hod as part of the artist exchange program Ein Hod-Hungary. These works all feature a plethora of densely crowded details that fill the entire compositional space.
The Life and Death of Yossi Waxman
In this exhibition, the artist Yossi Waxman offers a voyeuristic glimpse of his life journey, his family, and personally significant events. Waxman invites the viewers on a journey from the cradle to the grave – an absurd, humorous, sexual and instinctual trajectory that unfolds through peepholes, photographs, and paintings positioned throughout the space.
The images, and especially the portraits, appear in pictures taken from old family photographs and from ones that Waxman himself has photographed in the course of his life. The paintings capture the artist from childhood to adulthood, as well as various figures representing his relatives, which were inspired by family photographs. These paintings offer a twisted and grotesque image of the artist’s family members, whose expressions and moods are enhanced and they are portrayed with a simultaneously ironic and compassionate gaze.
Waxman’s acrylic paintings are distinguished by their expressive quality and by their rich, unrestrained, and highly material use of color. His brushstrokes are bold and energetic, and the forms are tremulous and distorted, giving rise to dramatic and emotionally charged figures that stare directly at the viewer, inviting him to return their gaze.
The peep boxes, which are seductive yet semi-concealed, feature homo-erotic photographs alongside fragments and quotations from family photographs. The viewer is invited to bend over, peer into the peepholes, and share in an experience that is at once intimate and clearly artificial.
One source of inspiration for these peep boxes was Marcel Duchamp’s work Etant Donné (1946-1966). In Duchamp’s installation, the viewer peers through a peephole in an old wooden door at an opening in a brick wall, through which one can glimpse a pastoral landscape, while in the foreground, lying on a bed of grass and twigs, is a naked woman. In Duchamp’s installation, the view through the crack offers a glimpse of forbidden and concealed world, which is both erotic and dark. Waxman carries the act of voyeurism to the extreme, leading the viewer into the world of peep shows, a dubious world whose imagery moves between eroticism and pornography.
In this manner, Waxman chooses to invite the viewer to invade his private sphere, in a forbidden act that unfolds by gazing through peepholes and locks: “For me, the experience of gazing through a peephole is the same experience described by people who have experienced clinical death. They see before them a tunnel with a gleaming ray of light at its end, as they review, in one instant, important figures and events in their lives.”
Rina Genussov, Exhibition Curator
Shelly Roichman, Interior-Exterior
Pencils appear as the major players in the works created by Shelly Roichman – serving both as a medium for drawing and as a raw sculptural material. The artist draws the interiors and exteriors of houses based on photographs she takes in her environment. Distorting these spaces, she “plants” into the drawings exotic images inspired by pictures she finds on the Internet: lush tropical vegetation, colorful birds, or the members of a remote African tribe in ceremonial dress.
Roichman creates fantastic worlds that combine familiar views of modern houses and foreign, exotic images, thus blurring the line between reality and the imagination, interior and exterior, the local and the faraway. These combinations of contrasting worlds and images, which are foreign to one another, come together in a surprisingly harmonious manner. They symbolize the contrast between the self-enclosed space of the home as a protective sphere that is at times lonely and gray, and which is the site of repetitive, Sisyphean actions, and between the longing to connect to nature, to wander to distant worlds, and to live a simple, careless life.
In these intensive compositions, Roichman studies the range of possibilities inherent to drawing with a pencil. By changing the angle and the pressure applied to the pencil moving across the sheet of plywood, the artist creates rich, stunning textures and patterns that resemble a delicate embroidery work.
Roichman also creates unique sculptures by gluing together thousands of pencils in close proximity, and using them as the raw material out of which she processes, cuts and shapes a range of forms. The choice of pencils as a raw sculptural material is based on the artist’s childhood memories, and stands out in contrast to the obsolete quality of pencils in today’s technological world. The three-dimensional bodies created by Roichman appear as nearly abstract landscape fragments, like a blurred vista glimpsed from a fast-moving vehicle or an old, peeling wall marred by the passage of time.
Roichman’s work gives expression to the contrast between a rich inner world of feelings, memories and dreams and the everyday environment, between the domestic and the uncanny, and between nature and culture. Her highly detailed compositions are marked by a manual quality, which calls to mind laboriously handcrafted images in ancient civilizations or in distant tribal cultures.
Rina Genussov, Exhibition Curator
Shir Moran – Aftertaste
Shir Moran’s artworks feature strange domestic spaces that seem to have gotten out of control, in which fragmented female figures appear in states of imbalance as they are scattered throughout the sea of patterns that make up each composition.
The supports for these compositions are stretches of cow skin whose form remains as it was when they were cut from the animal’s underside. Writing on parchment is an ancient technique that is still used to copy Torah scrolls, phylacteries, and Mezuzahs. The work is composed of individual parts that are hung together, creating a complex perception of space. The depicted objects appear as a weave of numerous details, and are devoid of a play of light and shade, of illusory elements or of actual depth. The compositions are filled with numerous details that create an intentional rhythm and an impression of noise and disorder.
By means of this excess and plenitude, which seem to cover up for a lack or void demanding to be filled, Moran explores sensations and questions with which she is concerned in her everyday life – such as exploitation, control and power relations between the sexes. The qualities that are so clearly expressed in her work – which contains implicit violence, bad taste, fantasies, bad design, and even “bad painting” – create a sense of tension and a hierarchical arrangement of objects in space. In this manner, the artist provokes a sense of estrangement and distance from the complex themes with which she is concerned.
Further observation reveals a growing number of details that point to the influence of ancient techniques and iconographic elements, which come together to form a charged and complex work expressing the artist’s subjective experience of the surrounding world.
The room relates to the system of sociocultural conditioning and expectations that shapes the differences between the sexes and their separate identities. The women in the work do not appear in their entirety: a face or a headless body peer out here or there in a seductive pose or with an inviting gaze, and can be dismantled like an object or like the surrounding space. They themselves become objects, while the objects in the work are animated and infused with life.
Moran’s presentation of female figures within a crowded composition further explores the threshold at which details are transformed from aesthetically pleasing elements into disturbing ones, and at which plenitude becomes violent and threatening despite its initially seductive and mesmerizing appearance.
Nitsan Shuval-Abiri, Exhibition Curator