Contemporary Fine Arts

Avner Ben-Gal

02 Oct - 02 Nov 2013

© Avner Ben-Gal
Eclipses (Dussmann), 2013
acrylic on canvas
200 x 300 cm / 79 x 118"
The Rover
2 October - 2 November 2013

The central figures in Avner Ben-Gal’s paintings are surrounded by a stoic calm even in supposed dramatic situations. A gnom-like figure boards a plane even though its cabin is burning. In the background, one sees the wings of just a started machine burning. A creature’s skull (whose head is depicted larger than life) is burning from the inside out. A one-armed figure is burning an oversized letter with a torch. Often the moon appears as a crescent, like a confirmation that we are dealing with “lunatics” here. As if moonstruck, the amorphous beings perform their absurd actions in a surreal scenery within which the viewer believes to recognize remnants of real incidents.
However, Ben-Gal does not comment on real, historical or political events, he seems rather to compound our collective subliminal.
Ben-Gal himself says that in his works he tends to blur the gap between land and water which gives the paintings an aptitude to float. Despite the weight that the protagonists in the works should have due to their partly dramatic actions, they in contrast seem to be weightless. The artist achieves this effect through depicting the figures without shadows.
In some of the paintings, the artist uses broad felt pen with which he marks sharp focusings inside the ephemeral and damp plains. These marks often have a calligraphic character, in earlier works there were even proper (Hebrew) letters which however consciously lack any kind of meaning.
Philipp Kaiser who curated the exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Basel writes in the accompanying catalogue: “Avner Ben-Gal’s... pictorial output... bears witness to a deep trust in painting, a painting that only finds itself in process and that yields surprising figurations, which bring fragilely poetic, narratively atmospheric compositions into being.”
In addition to the mentioned solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Basel in 2008, the artist was honoured by a solo show at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art in 2009. Avner Ben-Gal lives and works in Tel Aviv and Berlin.

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