With the title “Portraits and other paintings,” I presented 20 of my art works at the Immigrant’s Community Center in Netanya (curated by Eduard Paskhover) on Weds evening. The space was quite small so only a small sampling was possible. The opening was on Weds May 18 at 7 pm, but the show will be open during the week for 4 weeks. Here are some of the descriptions I posted to illustrate my art work.
Portraits: Years ago while still living in the US I painted several portraits, including two self-portraits. I did not paint any more portraits for many years. But a few years ago I had a sudden inspiration to paint a portrait of my wife, Naomi, and then our Filippina carer, Sahlee. I then painted portraits of several of my closest friends, Barile, Baruch and Eddie. I also painted a neighbor Mikael, because I loved his big red beard. While some may not think these portraits are exact likenesses, I can say that I was trying to capture their essence and personality and I think that I succeeded. Naomi is typically smiling and vivacious, Sahlee is wary, Baruch is intense, Barile is relaxed and Eddie is defiant. Of course, these are only some of their characteristics, but an artist has to choose to represent their personality in one fixed pose. In that context I recently painted a portrait of my mother-in-law, Millie Silverstein, in honor of her 100th birthday on Aug 27, 2015.
Shadows: After coming to live in Israel in 1996, I became aware of the role of shadows in our lives and focused my art on shadows and reflections. I here show a selection of these paintings. I especially like the shadows cast by trees and lights and I became obsessed by the random nature of many aspects of reality. The shadows make up a second aspect of reality that is both ephemeral yet real. When looked at closely these shadows seem to be from a different world, a different planet. People are not generally aware how much a portrait is dependent on shadows, it’s all shadows, the curve of the face, the shadow of the nose and the eyebrows, very subtle. The landscape of the face, its hills and valleys. Without its shadows the face would be unrecognizable. Similarly our reality would be unrecognizable, alien, without the accompanying shadows.
The Fallen (1985): When I was young I was obsessed with the Shoah, something that I have written about in my autobiographical novel “Amanuensis” (available on Amazon.com). I saw the pictures of bodies from the concentration camps being bulldozed and it stayed with me. I wanted to depict these bodies in painting, like the people sleeping in the London underground during the blitz in WWII that became a theme for Henry Moore’s sculptures, But, I could not paint them merely in black and white as dead bodies, I wanted to give them back a measure of life. I adopted the style of Henri Matisse, who did several paintings of dancers in a circle in bright colors in 1909-10. In my mind the two images fused and produced a painting of the Shoah victims as if they were still dancing in death. I believe this approach is novel and adds to our feeling for the victims.
Geometric Patterns: Many of my paintings exhibit a tendency to incorporate geometric patterns or designs. It has been said that this reflects my scientific background. Whatever the reason, I have often chosen to paint pictures with a criss-cross design, such as the view thru the roof of a pergola, or thru a window with trissim (slats), or thru a sun-blind, or of a tiled floor. Such designs can be seen in many of my paintings, including the landscape in Tuscany with parallel rows of vines. Maybe this represents the unique style that every artist is supposed to have that is instantly recognizable.
For more information go to my web-site http://www.jackcohenart.com and select either “Portraits” or “Recent paintings” from the list.