Landscape, Portrait, Still Life: Three Decades
Curator: Ilan Wizgan
17 Mar — 12 May, 2012
For David Ben-Shaul, painting has always dealt with three major subjects: landscape, portrait and still life. To these he adds interior paintings which combine and merge these subjects within them. He deals with these themes, studying each one like a scientist determined to understand the matter before him until he has grasped a full and sufficient understanding of it. However, these classic subjects did not come naturally to him. It would be more accurate to say that he gathered himself to them from two opposed edges: on one edge, avant-garde art, to which he was first exposed during his studies in Paris, and later through his work with artists groups such as 10+, Mashkof and Radius; at the other edge is pottery, an ancient art which was excluded from the “fine arts”.
Although ceramic sculpture occupies Ben-Shaul to this day, as a hobby which he relates to seriously, he has turned away from the art currents of the 60′s and 70′s which characterized his work in the past, regarding them a passing fad far from nature (including human nature) and far from the true achievements in art history. Indeed, from the 80′s onwards, his objects of reference and appreciation focused on the period between the 18th century and the beginning of the 20th century, disregarding an entire generation of artistic work. This is not disregard out of ignorance but a conscious act made out of choice and belief that what has been will be, that just as the life in our world developed through evolution, in a process of natural selection so has art, and painting in particular, and that classical painting is the most suitable for the structure of the human soul.
The current exhibition displays works on paper, Ben-Shaul’s favorite support and the one closest to his heart. It encompasses three decades of creation which is mature and developed yet always characterized with inquiry, learning and searching. It emphasizes the artist’s interest in the process, and his perception of the act of painting as an act of emotion. The result is important, but it is not the main point; the artist can paint the same view, at the same hour and from the same view point, or the same portrait, self or other, and the result will be different every time – because painting is the soul. This method has reassured itself since Ben-Shaul lost his eyesight almost entirely in recent years and moved to Ilaniya/Sejera, a village with natural landscape hardly touched by human hand. In the village, he goes out almost every day, sits in the shade of one tree or another, and paints the view he hardly sees, but feels in his entire body. A separate section of the exhibition is dedicated to this last category of paintings and the special status of the village in the artists’ life.
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue
Gallery talks with the artist and curator:
Thurs. 22.3.2012 at 6 pm
Thurs. 3.5.2012 at 6 pm