Tall Mountains. Black Leaves, March 24 - May 21, 2011
Jerome Zodo Contemporary is pleased to present TALL MOUNTAINS. BLACK LEAVES, the first solo exhibition in Italy by Israeli artist Eliezer Sonnenschein (1967, Haifa, Israel), opening Thursday, March 24, at 6:00 PM in the gallery space at Via Lambro 7, Milan.
Considered to be one of the most important artists on the Israeli scene, Eliezer Sonnenschein follows a vein of obsessive individualism that gives a different, unorthodox, almost anachronistic feeling to each of his shows. For this occasion, he will be presenting a new series of works within an exhibition that is like a symbolic path guiding us to identify and reflect on the speculative tendency, both historical and technological, of human experience.
Eliezer Sonnenschein: 'And so... Do I think it’s right? Wrong? I don’t know. I see myself as an artist who tries to document our (my) present in the only language I know'.
TALL MOUNTAINS. BLACK LEAVES marks the culmination of his latest creative phase, centered on the psycho-somatic investigation of the virtual world. The exhibition operates on various levels and through various means of expression, ranging from modular installations, to paintings, by way of digital photomontages. It is a jarring aesthetic exploration that ventures into delirium and infection, elements that are distant yet inseparable, a dialectic between surface and visual language, many different components for a single reason, religion. His own? As entities introduced into the gallery space, they interact, create a dialogue that is a stream of counterpoints: logic, geometry, and then the heart, the flesh, now the rational language rather than the free imagination, and vice versa. Vivid bodies are animated by relational complexities, with a nakedness that is explicit, as in the photographic series of metamorphic self-portraits 'Only the Elephant Wears Underwear' which express the intention and the pene-trating personality of Eliezer Sonnenschein. The artist’s practice is impossible to unravel; it forms a fabric of interwoven parts, held together in the attempt to grasp the multiplicity of their appearance and existence, inevitable reflections of chaotic human activity. Ours? Mine? Yours? His?
DO WE NO LONGER WIN BECAUSE WE HAVE LOST OUR ETERNAL NOTION OF ACHIEVEMENT?
TALL MOUNTAINS. Tall mountains are the imperative that Eliezer Sonnenschein takes as his starting point; in the history of civilization, they have always been places of the spirit, places for honing strength and wisdom; the seat of the soul, closer to the presence of God. In the collective imagination, they have come to symbolize a training ground where man, at the cost of much effort and sacrifice, learns to tame his own nature, where he cultivates virtue, and step by step, attains ever-higher levels of equilibrium, wisdom, and inner strength. They do not exist for themselves, but in relation to the man who contemplates them, challenges them, climbs them, and adapts to them. (Ascensioni Umane, Giuseppe Langella). The technological era—the web era, the Facebook era—has definitively replaced the ideal of conquest with a philosophy of science, which is elevated to represent total revelation, the autonomy of the human race.
The deep grey structural triptych 'Snake and Prostitution' (2011, wood and mixed media) placed at the center of the gallery space, incarnates this sense of eversion in media identities, this idea of a message in movement, like a prostitute moving from body to body; the snake is her garment. The linear triad is devoid of any specific function, as is often true of previous works, which cannot be immediately grasped. Eliezer Sonnenschein simply plays a different way of portraying the human condition.
Eliezer Sonnenschein:' … We no longer have privacy, even in what we consider as our Psychological analysis. In a mater of seconds, mega web powers can know all about the individual personality!'
The 'Facebook Portraits' (2011) divided into three large oil canvas and two tables, are based on the classification of different personalities: each color— red, black, green, yellow, light blue, orange, pink — corresponds to a type of behavior on the web. Eliezer Sonnenschein traces out web-chromatic diagrams to classify the different personalities of the individuals. What color is given to someone who tags or posts a picture of his wife’s butt? The same one as Sarah or Simon in the works 'Casting for Venus of Willendorf Ass' (2011)? And the person who looks at it? And who posts “I like it”?
A REALLY WELL-MADE BUTT IS THE ONLY LINK BETWEEN ART AND NATURE (O.Wilde)
Eliezer Sonnenschein: 'The black leaves symbolize our memory: it is real, it is alive, and it no longer even needs sunlight to perform photosynthesis. It can practically live forever…'
BLACK LEAVES. The black leaves represent the relics of our past, the sieve and stage of memory, the legacy of a history. The term photosynthesis (from the Greek φώτο- [photo-], 'light', and σύνθεσις [synthesis], 'putting together, composition') means properly light assembly; This explains and anticipates the structural piece High Mountains: Black Leaves (2011) translated as a kind of hook for refrigerator boxes.
The three-dimensional empyrean sphere of Eliezer Sonnenschein’s work is based on existentialist poetics which reduce shapes and colors to their most basic essence. In Ventilators (2011), a mechanical group of white and grey wind turbines made of metal, placed under the gallery’s mezzanine and very close to the floor, once again embody both the spread of technology as an expression of our present, and the need for reprieve from it. The artist refreshes our capacity to feel, he wants us outside of the means, yet works with the means; it is pure contradiction. Distinguishing himself is thus the existentialist antithesis of our practice and of his Art.
WHAT IS A PAIR OF CHERRIES DOING ON A PENIS?
Whereas the spatial structures involve an exaggerated condensation, the act of painting takes the opposite; the large 'Untitled' series (2011, oil on cardboard), suggests the violence of filth, of vomit, of chaotic execution. The entire installation of paintings is a bleak landscape of apocalyptic dark and nebulous presences. This desolate geography inevitably, echoes scenes from the Middle East, the artist’s homeland. While the hues in the large Facebook Portraits are the garments of web users, the color in this family of small works is the human complexion, the skin, its blood, pure essence of life. The tableaux vivants of Eliezer Sonnenschein convey the sacrifice and the sentence of the living, a spectral dance that portrays uneasiness as a dynamic, destructive shape of human life.