Vitam Impendere Vero (To Pay His Life for the Truth)
1 DEC 2010 – 5 FEB 2011

Click here to see images of the exhibition

Gowen Contemporary is delighted to announce the Israeli artist Yifat Bezalel’s first solo exhibition outside Israel.

Yifat Bezalel’s work is essentially composed of pencil and ink drawings on paper or wood, installation, sculpture and video. Of a remarkable quality, Bezalel’s drawings reveal a deep understanding and mastering of chiaroscuro and cross-hatching as expressive tools. The work departs from classical drawing and classical motifs, but the multiple layers of superimposed images that it comprises, engenders an abstract and complex image of nature. The disconnected and repeated images create an unreal and illegible space resulting in a sense of vertigo confounding the viewer’s perception. Bezalel approaches the process of drawing by translating intimate feelings into physical images while her chief concerns with issues of space, fullness and emptiness become tangible. She manipulates the tension between the paper’s white expanse and the delicate rendering of her characters, thus dramatising the fragile sense of self. Fragility and uncertainty are further manifested in Bezalel’s manner of displaying her works, pinned simply to the wall or unravelled on the floor, whereas paper chains, stickers, silver touches seem to suggest connections between different worlds. Every drawing is a hybrid of different moments, creating movement and allowing access to parallel worlds and countless possibilities, through practical labouring and emotional presence. In her work Bezalel challenges the traditional divisions between interior and exterior, before and after, strong and fragile, valuable and worthless.

Beyond biographical readings, Bezalel’s work tackles the larger questions of identity, art makiing, temporality and the philosophical categories of nature and culture.

‘’Vitam Impendere Vero’’ is an ambitious exhibition where Bezalel queries the meaning of her work: she requires her art to be ‘truthful and honest.’ She therefore favours drawing as a means of expression and refuses any artifice or easy means of attraction. She is trying to represent without ‘cheating.’ For Bezalel this truth and honesty also involves the process of the artistic creation being laid bare in comparison to an interpretation of the work of art uniquely as a product. In this exhibition Bezalel partially reproduces her studio and sketch notes and exposes the intimate sphere of her art processing to the viewer.

First of all there is emptiness which forces a choice to be made. The emptiness is an unconscious state, it is the rabbit hole through which Alice in Wonderland falls, a passage, a gateway, limbo, nowhere, a state where nothing is happening, it is the white paper, the empty space. The void ‘‘also symbolizes the subconscious, when I flirt with thoughts I dare not speak of, fantasies I cannot live or express, which are far away yet powerful’ (Y.Bezalel, 2009). This space is often chosen as the scene of an obsessive and dramatic struggle or a state of calm, meditative introspective desire.

The yearning for nature is at the centre of Bezalel’s work. It is a journey, the pursuit of an illusion, an unattainable goal. Works like Mesira (Transmission), showing a classical figure inspired by a Bernini sculpture depicted in a sort of limbo stage, in ecstasy, just before reaching infinity, yearning for something, or Wild Nobleman, showing horses running in an attempt to break out of the paper, become representations of a romantic state of mind of natural wildness in a hardly identifiable complex mental space. These are moments of deep inspiration, understanding and merging with nature, brief, evanescent, fleeting moments that art allows to preserve for longer.

The title of the present exhibition quotes Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s motto, taken from a passage by the Latin satirical poet Juvénal. The artist has been greatly influenced by Rousseau whose, ‘’meditations on nature and wandering have illuminated the path of my own quest and filled me with a sense of belonging’’ (Y.Bezalel, 2010).

Yifat Bezalel was born in 1975 in Tel Aviv, Israel, and studied at the Betzalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalm. She currently lives and works in Tel-Aviv. Past solo exhibitions include ‘You Are in Elysium and You’re Already Dead’, Artist’s Studios, Tel-Aviv, curated by Vered Zafran Gani (2010); ‘From this World to the World’, commissioned work, Fresh Paint Art Fair, Tel-Aviv (2010); ‘Ulysses-Alices’, Inga Gallery, Tel-Aviv (2009); ‘To Be Woven’, Artist’s House, Tel Aviv, curated by Orly Hoffman, (2008). Selected group exhibitions include the Israel Museum of Art, Jerusalem (2009); ‘Explosion. Art Contemporain Israélien,’ Geneva, curated by Keren Bar-Gil and Mirav Katri (2009); 'Two Sides: International Video Artists', Stockholm Culture House, Stockholm, curated by Sandra Weil (2008); Jerusalemartist House, ‘Traces III. The Third Biennial for Drawing in Israel’, curated by Dalia Manor (2007); Sotheby’s London, curated by Freda Uziel (2007); CCA, Tel-Aviv, ‘Videozone: 3rd International Video Biennial’, curated by Sergio Adelstein (2006). The Museum of Art in Tel-Aviv and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London include work by Bezalel. The artist was the winner of the 'Special Projects in the Art Fund' prize in 2010, Rabinovich Foundation and the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality.

For further information please contact Laura Gowen on (+41) 79 330 17 54 or info@gowencontemporary.com