february 27 - april 3, 2011
opening SUNDAY, february 27, 5-7
gallery hours: wednesday-sunday, 11-6
On the verge of absconding into a total disarray of nebulous swashes and cloudy, coagulating hues, the characters in Bloch's paintings, while flirting with abstraction, nevertheless remain figurative. It is largely, though not exclusively, the penetrating eyes (bringing to mind the heads of Edvard Munch) that tend to pin the figures into place, reinforcing their concreteness and bodily presence. In Untitled ("Inner Appearances"), it is the dark, unflinching gazes that implacably haunt the picture, acting as a stay against confusion for the surrounding features. Additionally, in this painting, as in Untitled ("Three Figures"), a backdrop of black striations imprisons the image, organizing the bodies in space. Unsure of whether the direct address of the figures' gazes is more solidly confrontati onal or elusively impenetrable, viewers find themselves simultaneously unsettled and allured by such unsure apparitions.
And yet despite the hold of the gazes, and the bold assertiveness of the vertical lines, the process of deterioration and the danger of dissolution seem to haunt Bloch's work to no end. The paintings, as though endowed with the quality of photographic film, seem to have been overexposed to the light, leaving some areas of the image bleached, charred, or almost entirely destroyed. Recalling the disconcerting figures of Marlene Dumas or James Ensor, a sense of precariousness pervades. And while colors engage in textured conversation with other colors, it is not always harmoniously so—swashes of curdling grays, scorched ivories, riveted blues and permeating reds all dissolve one into the other, as though each pigment were a kind of species always at risk of becoming completely overrun by some other species. Amorphousness, as in Francis Bacon's work, is key here. And so, while juxtaposition allows for sublime interactions, it also opens up the floodgates for possible extinction.
And yet the paintings are not despairing. Indeed, the artist, using found images as inspiration, has, as such, made the canvas a site for the reconstruction of scenes otherwise forgotten and unknown, resurrecting and reconstituting faces otherwise unremembered. Layers are never at a loss in the wavering between light and dark, translucence and opacity, on Bloch's canvases, all of which is suggestive of the never-ending secretiveness and impenetrability of history, whose shifting aspects, varying facets, and inexhaustible strata beg to be revealed, however fraught or fragmented such revelations may be.
There is overall, in Bloch's work, a sense of it being unclear whether the convergence of opposites occurring both in terms of color and form, is more likely to err on the side of fruitful conference or deadly collision. The outcome, at best, is unclear. Or rather, the result is not the point in these paintings—it is the tension being enacted that enlivens and enthralls the canvases; in and through whose persistent irresolution we, as viewers, find ourselves deeply stirred.
Maya Bloch was born in Be'er Sheva, Israel in 1978, and currently lives and works in Tel Aviv. She holds a B.A. and an M.A. from Tel Aviv University. She has previously had a solo exhibition at Thierry-Goldberg Projects, as well as at the Haifa Museum of Art and at Tavi Dresdner Gallery in Tel Aviv. Her work was also included in group exhibitions at PPOW Gallery, New York; Marlborough Gallery, New York; The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), Brooklyn, NY; Artistsʼ House, Jerusalem; Office in Tel Aviv Gallery; and HAKITA Gallery, Tel Aviv.