Curator: Wizgan Ilan
30 Aug — 18 October, 2014
The exhibition brings together a selection of works, mostly from recent years, gathered while wandering among different bodies of work; some of them were shown in previous exhibitions but most are exposed here for the first time. Shimon Pinto is a painter who joins a long tradition of “childishness” in Israeli art, whose expressions and various manifestations unfold from the Modernism of early twentieth century to the present. Whether idealistic and ideological as in the works of early artists in Eretz Yisrael, or critical and political as in those of contemporary Israeli artists, the characteristic they have in common is the attempt to adopt the perspective of the child, the untouched gaze, unspoiled and free of mannerism and excess. Pinto adopts not only the childish forms, but also the visuals and combine them all in a creation that is at the same time biographical, religiously faithful and critical.
The works are brimming with images of happiness from his childhood, that simple and basic happiness arising from pushing a wheel with the use of a stick, floating paper boats, flying balloons and kites, and other such images associated with times gone forever, not just because maturity has replaced childhood, but also because the age of innocence, poor by means but rich in ideas, is being replaced by a technological era full of ready-made effects and endless stimuli. The other aspect, completing the biographical preoccupation, is the reality of the artist’s life, first and foremost rooted in religious faith. This aspect is expressed in symbolistic paintings of the ritual bath, messianic figures, Kabbalistic imagery of ladders and angels, as well as rituals and customs. These do not cast doubt in the essence and principles of religion and belief, yet they examine their “expansions” and boundaries – Jewish law, tradition and mysticism.
Another fascinating facet of Pinto’s work is the artistic dialogue it maintains with the Israeli canon. The fact that he does not belong to any of the two main schools, that of Bezalel and that of the Midrasha, and as a religious person active in a field which is secular by nature, he experiences a double alienation in the Israeli art world. From the special place where he stands, he examines critically and with quite a bit of humor, iconic works of art, as well as typical representatives of the Israeli establishment. Danziger’s sculpture “Nimrod” immersed in a mikveh, and a donkey wandering in the Tel-Aviv Museum sculpture plaza are examples of mixing the terms “holiness” and “secularity” and moving them back and forth between the two worlds that inhabit the artist’s soul.