Curator: Suisa Albert
31 Aug — 12 October, 2013
Holiness and the wolf – the beast as a conduit, a signifier of the absence of the signification of holiness and its hidden face in the human space – form the subject of Lena Zaidel’s symbol-laden and multi-layered painting.
In Lena Zaidel’s language of painting, whose use of line transforms the objects it depicts into a space unto itself, the wolves first appear in a seemingly infinite void unbound by definitions of space and time, and then gradually raid city sites indiscriminately, like the plague: at the Temple Mount or in commercial and industrial zones; in nameless crossroads or public institutions; in back yards or city-center squares. The desolate urban space, which is almost completely deprived of human presence, undergoes a Symbolist “purging” that leads one to think: What is the meaning of the world of objects in which no human may be reflected from the animal’s eye?
The impression that this is an apocalyptic vision that the wolves disseminate, is nothing but another, possible horizon of this painting. But for now humans returned to inhabit the space, as though nothing has happened, and the vision is supposedly suspended for another time. Life goes on as it always has, but it is no longer the same; it is fractured and possibly will never be healed. The friendly wolves roaming freely between fragments of reality appear to testify that they have always been here, but our eyes could not see them.
“The animal is in the world like water in water,” says George Battaile in an attempt to distil the ancient appearance of holiness that had been lost to humans, who have been “expelled” and separated from the world. In a fascinating deconstructive move, Lena Zaidel examines the major difference between the secular perception of transcendence-holiness, and the religious perception of holiness as secluded and hierarchical. According to Zaidel, there are no signs of holiness; there are only signifiers of its absurd and lost “possibility,” beyond any existence.
And so, by following the continuous presence of wolves in Zaidel’s paintings, in what seems like a phenomenological pictorial storyboard, we witness a process of Symbolist distillment and the transformation of the wolf into a signifier of the absence of holiness on the one hand, and a conduit of its yearned-for possibility, on the other hand.ש