Saturday morning. Tel Aviv Museum of Art. "Body, Work" an exhibition of Avraham Ofek's work. His last body of work - left me speechless. Despite the impossibility to capture its feel through the reflections in the glass, I still photographed them. Raw feelings in pencil, watercolor and gouache. Here is how the curator introduced this body of work:
Four and a half months before leaving LA, every experience becomes more precious, tinged with a bit of sadness: soon this will come to an end.
Don't get me wrong, there are many things I am looking forward to when returning home to Israel, but the LA art world that open its gates before me, this world I will sorely miss. And not just the large, breathtaking exhibits we planned to go to (Minor White, Picasso...) but the ones we encountered by mistake, when waiting for a tour to start, or just passing through the room in order to get to the exhibit we wanted to see. Like last Sunday, John McLaughlin' "Total Abstraction".
We had 15 minutes before the start of the Picasso and Rivera tour, and started peeking at the other exhibits in the building to pass the time. I am not a huge fan of completely abstract work, but something in the coherent simplicity of the room demanded attention. This was one of three rooms showing work by a painter I never heard about John McLaughlin. The plaque on the wall described his Japanese influences and had a quote that caught my eyes:
"Asian paintings made me wonder who I was. Western painters, on the other hand, tried to tell me who they were."
For the first time, I turned around and looked at abstract images differently. All of a sudden the focus of the paintings changed. Instead of looking at the painted lines, I focused on the spaces between them. Listening between the lines to echoes of me.
Surrealism is one of my favorite art movements. It is a pretty recent "love" but and quite surprising given my classic upbringing and education. I instinctively enjoy its witty way of making me look deeper at images, making me think. But knowing (intellectually) is very different than understanding (emotionally), and it seems the the world decided it is about time to teach me the difference between the two...
For the last few weeks, I had to come to terms with the nearing end of Irene, my mother in law, a person who was very dear to me. A phone call in the middle of the night separated the world as it was, from the one it became - a world without her. After the funeral and the traditional "Shivaa", only starting to grasp the enormity of it all, my husband and I returned to Frankfurt, Germany to take care of the things she left behind: furniture, clothes, apartment... Taking a few hours off from this gruesome task, we went to see Magritte's exhibit. Moving from image to image, without the benefit of the audio guide (German only :(...) - a light turned on.
The images, besides being aesthetically stunning, were an exact reflection of my state of mind. A world that makes no sense, where there seem to be two coexisting spaces: an internal one that holds up to a reality that no longer exist, and an external one where the sun is shining (actually it was kind of cloudy), the trees are full of buds and someone else will soon move in to her apartment. Just as plausible as a pair of pants standing by themselves on the table.
I realize, and not for the first time either, that there is some part of me that understands things before the mind does. More then once, I fell in love/felt compelled to do something without really understanding why. On my unexpected love of Surrealism, it seems my brain finally caught up with the ??/mind/spirit/whatever it is that fell in love in the first place. Now, back to being the rational me, I start wondering what/where is this "understanding" mind. Where does it hide? Where does it go when the body it was connected to is gone ...?
The power of simplicity (and amazing craftmanship ...). This is my favorite image from David A. Leffel's exhibit I saw last Saturday. This was the text displayed with this image:
"Gathering Dust, 1975. During the 1970's, Leffel still lifes became simpler and more minimal. Gathering Dust is an intimate painting with a mood of calm tranquility. The artist said: I tried to pait as quiet a painting as possible. It has almost no color, no movement. Just this little sprig of silver dollars seems alive. Everything else is drained. "
As I found out while reworking my artist statements for the xxx time (!), conveying something in a short, simple way is way more difficult that piling words on paper or color on canvass.