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Lena and Oded Zaidel

“I had a dream… Janco”

As a tribute to and inspired by the works of Marcel Janco in the permanent exhibition and as part of a new project, artists Lena and Oded Zaidel were invited to create works especially for the museum space.

The painting “A Dream about Marcel Janco 1″ depicts the artist Lena Zaidel dozing in her Jerusalem studio, her arm embracing a cardboard mask of Tristan Tzara, one of the founders of the Dada movement. In Zaidel’s painting this three-dimensional mask, which was created by Janco and is on exhibit in the museum’s permanent exhibition, has been turned into an expressive two-dimensional image cut off from its original context. Zaidel also draws inspiration here from the works of other well-known artists, such as Man Ray and Brâncuși.

The painting “A Dream about Marcel Janco 2″ contains images from Janco’s painting “Imaginary Animals” that Lena Zaidel took apart and put together again. In her painting Zaidel inserts figures taken from her personal archives of images and from the geographic region where she lives. The wolves express a personal motif of purification, liberation and a call for renewal. Her painting also features houses built of Jerusalem stone as well as the Dome of the Rock, referring to the complex political situation. Zaidel adopts the colorful geometric shapes outlined with strong and sharp lines that were typical of Janco’s style in the 1960s and 1970s. She breaks down and rebuilds images from Janco’s works, granting them a new and relevant meaning in her surrealistic paintings.

Inspired by masks created by Marcel Janco, Oded Zaidel fashioned five large colorful masks from cardboard sheets, forming a carnival of masks that on the one hand is colorful and naïve, with hot air balloons depicting the eyes and cloud shapes describing the hair.  On the other hand, the masks also feature industrial and urban elements, such as antennas, street lamps or roads. In recent years Zaidel’s work is characterized by urban and industrial landscapes through which he engages in dialogue with the founding fathers of abstract geometric painting. His encounter with the automatic poetry of the Dada artists in general, and with the breaking of conventions in Tzara’s poetry in particular, inspired him to look differently at topics that interest him and enabled him to break the rules, celebrate artistic freedom and create masks that are a hybridization of facial lines, landscapes and various objects taken from other contexts. Thus, Zaidel’s contemporary masks reflect the spirit of Dadaism and surrealism and are marked by lightness, subversion of what exists, absurdity, humor and childlike innocence.

The exhibition’s name, “Dreaming of Janco,” is adapted from the name of the vignette “Dreaming of Crows” in the film Dreams by the famous Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. This vignette, the director’s tribute to the renowned artist Vincent Van Gogh, features a virtual journey through the rich colors and textures of the Dutch painter’s works.

The current exhibition is a link in a chain of influences, tributes and quotations typical of the history of the plastic arts and other art forms. The exhibition examines the relevance of exploring art works and artists from the past and shows the extent to which the work of contemporary artists is enriched and enhanced by their tributes to these past artists. The dialogue between the work of Lena and Oded Zaidel and the work of Marcel Janco takes on even greater significance by virtue of its placement within the permanent display as an integral part of the exhibition dedicated to Janco’s work.

Rina Genussov
Exhibition Curator