Gil Goldfine, The French Connection, Jerusalem Post, 31.05.2006

The French connection

Description : Increase text sizeOne of several exhibitions in which artists of the Bineth Gallery stable get to choose other artists they feel an affinity for is entitled My Parisian All-Stars, works by three Russian expats brought together by Israeli painter Jan Rauchwerger.

Several canvases and works on paper by Naftali Rakuzin, Mikhail Roginsky and Samuel Ackerman provide a review of each artist's stylistic path. Rakuzin, who lived here fr om 1974 to 1981 before moving to Paris, displays tightly rendered color and gray scale drawings of shelves devoted to a plethora of books of all sizes and shapes and covering the history of art.

Mikhail Roginsky was an excellent painter who, even after his move from Russia to Paris in 1978, continued to portray the stoical aspect of his compatriots until his death in 2004. His descriptions of the perennial food lines, drab underground stations and muffled, snow-covered streets are rendered in layers of gentle colors and a range of grays. His The Great Supper is gloomy to its core. Set in a rigid rectilinear composition, Roginsky describes a mother of solid proportions watching over her inert children.

Rauchwerger himself has mounted a series of fragile monochromatic portraits of his mother, and Ackerman continues his graphic orientation with colorful illustrative works on paper topped by inventive typography (Bineth Gallery, 15 Frishman, Tel Aviv). Till June 9.

CHRYSANTHEMUMS, ROSES, irises, gladiolas, daffodils and more fill ultra-colorful canvases by Shuly Wolff, an obsessive painter who uses and reuses the same flighty gestures of impasto, soft washes or dabs of a palette knife to come up with a range of exceedingly monotonous paintings. One wall contains nearly 20 different size formats, several of which are packed with edge-to-edge wisps of floral decoration, while others retain a decidedly conservative compositional manner (Shorashim Art School, 2 Habimah Sq., Tel Aviv). Till June 7.

AMONG THE standard Roget's synonyms attached to the word melancholy are sad, depressed, miserable, downhearted and glum, whereas the curator of Melancholia, an exhibition at Sommer Contemporary Art, prefers to associate the concept with suffering, madness, creativity and genius.

By a stretch, the gifted viewer might succeed in deducing the intrinsic meaning of the paintings, photographs and one animated video by 11 Israeli and international artists.

Mostly banal and uninspiring, the works are of such a nature that I believe the gallery has extended their thematic position paper to the lim it of public comprehension. But as stand-alones taken out of the exhibition context, the jet black apparitions in Ugo Rondinone's photographs emerge as brutally mysterious scenarios of people in distress. The lone woman talking (in Japanese) on a cell phone in Zilla Leutenegger's animated video clip Mamoru reminds one of the episodic ranting in social commentary films by South African William Kentridge. The linear simulation coupled with real live street sounds and philosophical credits at film's end makes for a refreshing few minutes.

The Polish painter Wilhelm Sasnal shows two reductive, monochromatic landscapes whose natural environment is obliterated by a black calligraphic insignia depicting the picture's title hovering in the foreground. Christoph Ruckhaeberle's folksy description of a flattened lone male figure deals with separation, isolation and the contemporary problem of leisure time. Others showing include Anna Yam, Pierre Huyghe and Philipp Parreno, Avner Ben Gal, Yitzhak Livneh and Whitney Bedford (Sommer Contemporary Art, 13 Rothschild, Tel Aviv). Till June 23.

HIGHLIGHTING a three person show are evocative Dada-inspired video presentations by Sagit Aloni that reverberate with accounts of the Holocaust told by her late father, a survivor.

The uncomplicated repetitive actions of Hungarian Goulash and Bread in the Refrigerator relate directly to this disquieting experience. The former is comprised of an empty soup bowl containing a belly button (or eye) image embedded in its center which is accompanied by a filmed hand holding a spoon and eating from the unfilled dish. The latter, filmed in a commercial bakery, is a metaphor dealing with an individual's responsibility to the community. Aloni has filmed a close-up of a loaf of bread (the staff of life) coming through a bread cutter and then picked apart slice by slice.

Shosh Graetz uses digital maneuverings to create a cache of exploratory gray portraits of Chuck Close, Laurie Anderson and Jenny Saville. Chiseled and polished basalt is the medium of choice for Omri Fink, whose rustic abstract sculptures, positioned on the gallery floor, appear to be crude organic volumes found in nature (Hakibbutz Israeli Art Gallery, 25 Dov Hoz, Tel Aviv). Till June 9.

AUGMENTING PHOTOGRAPHS and rotogravure printed pages with additional media is long an accepted technique, providing the painter brings something of himself to the surface by expanding the original into a fresh pictorial experience. Oren Eliav's Visitors are dramatic panels in which mundane subjects have been swashbuckled into improved personal statements.

Using a lacquer pigment, Eliav recycles the optical world into a lyrical one. A simple rain gutter and roof drain containing a mellifluous viridian fluid become a dynamic, abstract composition of interlocking shapes, lines and textures crisscrossing on a pastel green background. Other subjects include a children's choral group, Napoleon on horseback, a nocturnal view of a docked schooner and a robust painting depicting a cool blue dam framed by cascading walls of water, bolts of white spray and a column of ominous, yellow-suited men in the lower foreground marching out of the picture plane.

In several canvases Eliav's consideration for color schemes, physical application of pigment and composition becomes erratic and exceedingly sensational. But in the main there is a healthy alliance between the static reproductive image and artistic capability (Givon Art Gallery, 35 Gordon, Tel Aviv). Till June 17.