Water, Heart, Face – Jerusalem Biennale

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(article originally posted on intlfineartfund.com.)

The Jerusalem Biennale has presented a variety of Jewish voices in the arts since 2013.  This year, the theme of “Watershed” was explored in spiritual searching, masculine Jewish identity, the relationship between church and state, and heaven and earth, among many others.  The image of the watershed, geological bodies of water that converge and separate in different places, is a metaphor for the connections and disparities between people, as well as pivotal moments in history. 

The Jerusalem Biennale will be held from October 1 – November 16, 2017.  26 Exhibitions are held throughout various locations in the city, with the work of 200 artists on display. 

We spent four days touring the exhibitions and meeting with artists to capture what is happening in the fine arts in Jerusalem.

Water, Heart, Face

“As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart” (Proverbs 27:19)

Curator Avital Naor Wexler describes her exhibition Water, Heart, Face as such: “It’s about the gathering of people as a reflection.  It could be a mirror, but it is water face to face.  I think that if the sentence [in Proverbs] says something about water, it says something else than the objective reflection, like in a mirror.  It has more depth.  It has more movement.”  Water is a vehicle for a variety of experiences and connections.  Naor Wexler found this to be a diverse theme for the exhibition.  The story of Narcissus comes to mind, a man obsessed with his own reflection, “but in this sentence, it talks about the heart as well.  It talks about a relationship between two people, more than one, not with yourself.  I think that it is interesting because the art is a kind of pond, a lake, something that is a reflection between the artist and the audience.”

Naor Wexler believes that when someone sees a piece of art they are drawn to what they see of themselves or the person who created the work in it.   “When you meet art the thing that attracts you is because you find yourself or you find the artist, or someone else within the work.”  She wanted to compare Narcissus and Proverbs to explore the variety of reflections in art.  “I chose several artworks that are self-portraits, but with a twist.”  The artists, or symbols of themselves, are in various emotional states with the presence of water and reflections.

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One of the works by Vered Aharanovitch features a character who she has labeled as representing herself.  This young girl is depicted in four sculptures as a mermaid within fishbowls.  Twisting and turning, drawing her own blood with sea urchins, her expressions are aloof, pained, and frustrated.  In the glass, observers see her pain as she maturing through heartache, just as they see their own face reflected.

Naor Wexler designed the exhibition to be “something that you can come and meet, and something that will come to you from the art itself.”  The question of what attracts a person to a work of art remains an open question to Wexler, one that Water, Heart, Face,provides space for.

Water, Heart, Face includes the work of: Aharon Kritzer, Alma Shneor, Carolina Bonfil, Debbie Kampel, Eliad Landau, Eliran Jan, Einat Arif-Galanti, Gideon Rubin, Merav Shin Ben-Alon, Matan Ben Tolila, Noa Arad Yairi, Renana Salmon, Shulamit Etsion, Vered Aharonovitch, Yoni Salmon, Yifat Shtainmetz Hirst.  See the exhibition, and several others, as 12 Bezeq Building, Chopin Street, Jerusalem.

Artwork: Aharon Kritzer, Vered Aharanovitch

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Alfred Manessier: A Composer in Colors

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Alfred Manessier: Composer in Colors is a part of the current roster of travelling exhibitions from Bowden Collections.  The collection includes twenty of Manessier’s lithographs, all of which give the impression that he really was a composer.  The French artist’s work was labeled Lyrical Abstraction (Abstraction Lyrique) in the Post World War II art world of the mid 1940s.  Manessier painted with a quality of life and movement, images like music playing before your eyes.

The strokes of the paintbrush appear to vibrate.  Both dark and bright shapes have energy.  In some images, there is a sense of push and pull between the two.  In “L’emprionnement,” dark and muddy shapes bar colors that refuse to stop dancing under oppression.  This is this balance of dire darkness and hope throughout the exhibition.  Images composed from the lighter end of the spectrum don’t lack the strength of these depictions of conflict.  The energy of the colors is bold and hangs in a different kind of balance.

While Manessier was not a musical composer, his sense of energy in colors may have come from his work as a stained-glass artist.  Manessier’s windows were, like these lithographs, non-figurative.  The curving black outline of each pane was filled with an ambiguous shape.  The effect of sunlight shining through the panes energizes the colors and their sense of movement.

Learn more about the Bowden Collection and where exhibitions, like this, are travelling next here.