They’ll Never Wake Us in Time

Oren Eliav

May 28 - July 15, 2010

In Oren Eliav’s paintings the images perform – they present themselves to an audience. Architectural elements (a highly decorated altarpiece, an ornate ceiling), objects and clothing (a cape, a helmet, a bell), or figures whose essential mode is the act of performing (musicians, orators, or royalty) – they all manifest to the viewer a startling abundance. In Eliav’s painting, these images are hollow containers, whose presence is established through their own elaborated surface.

Eliav’s painting first follows the images, and then follows itself. It works from up close and from within – a proximity which no longer allows for the sight to rely on reason. Thus, despite of their highly detailed depiction, approaching the paintings neither reveals the image’s components, nor sharpens the gaze. Rather, the approaching unfolds as a decomposing movement – we are faced with lines and drips, and whirling, scattered smudges. It is in those moments, when painting traces ornamentation, that it strips itself of decorum and exposes the simple, concrete facts of the painterly craft. These moments also entail the failure of vision as a structuring and organizing faculty, or as a metaphor for the order of things or a worldview. Instead, vision re-establishes itself as a basic, corporal,and tangible sense, now mixed up with other senses such as hearing and touch.

Objects and forms appear in Eliav’s paintings expanded and stretched, arching from one edge to the other, multiplying, leaving traces and trails of fume across the entire canvas. The painterly work is dedicated to the excess and the pathos inherent to performing rituals. At the same time, the exaggeration and senselessness of these practices remain pressed against the paintings’ loaded and varied surfaces. One brushstroke joins another, as they accumulate in front of the viewer, forming an active and emerging presence. The suggestive viewing process, which turns paint into vapors, smoke or lighting, is also a process of awakening, which ignites the images in a continuous present. However, at the same time, every brushstroke recalls the ancient past of the medium of painting and its prior manifestations. Thus, in Eliav’s painting, the complex relation between the lavish and the hyperbolic is formed simultaneously by imagery and facture.

Curator: Leah Abir

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