Curator: Orimian Dan
30 Aug — 18 October, 2014
The Virtues of Measurement
For the past fifteen years, Ronen Siman-Tov has been carrying Avraham Ofek’s (nearly extinguished) torch, while traversing, in wonderful isolation, the high road of creation, marked by the existential and religious. Painting after painting, Ronen Siman-Tov ponders the riddle of existence and the metaphysical meaning of being a man, between earth and heaven. It seems that in his “measurers” paintings, the artist has refined the form and content of his statement, by going further into the sublime, “Hegelian” unity of the finite and the infinite, the material and the spiritual, the sensuous and the meditative.
The “Measurers” series marks a dramatic shift in Siman-Tov’s artistic grammar, since the faded spaces and miniaturized figures are now replaced by an approach that is clearly Baroque, and which links Siman-Tov’s grammar to that of the early Velázquez and even Caravaggio. By this I mean that the paintings have become much more theatrical, orchestrated in a much more dramatic light, marked by darkness, while at the same time a significant part of the figures are represented monumentally (ironic as this may be) and with a solid figurativeness. However, Siman-Tov’s Baroque belongs to the new millennium and accordingly, it is aware of itself as décor for an anti-monumental vision, which may even be comic.
What is the meaning of the darkness that Ronen Siman-Tov has imposed upon his pictorial world? It is a darkness of punishment. Its horizons shine with light and smoke; a trace of red in the sky or around a mountain top disclose a great conflagration and if you will – “The reddening eye of the sky slowly darkens on borders that are up in smoke” (Nathan Alterman, “The Silver Tray”). Either way, a Holocaust-stricken world, which more than it is prepared for the reception of the Torah or “the one and only miracle” is far more desperate than in previous paintings. A spiritual darkness? An existential darkness? A social darkness? A theological darkness?. Nonetheless and despite everything, neither the artist nor the fruits of his spirit will forgo the chance, meager and hopeless as it may be, to rescue from the furnace of destruction the last, glowing ember from the Temple’s altar; to experience, even if but a portion, but a pitiful fragment, of the highest secrets and the most hidden; to make a desperate effort to know, in a time and place of distress, the existence of the secret of secrets of that which cannot be known or discovered at all. (“The Zohar”)