Zehava Masser - Israeli Artists
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"Every creation conceals memories of previous acts and occurrences", this is the underlying motto of Zehava Masser's works, some of which are compiled in this catalogue. The memories concealed within the object of artifact are extremely personal. A successful work of art is one which conveys to the unacquainted viewer if only the smallest fragment of the creator's emotions. It is the artist's degree of excitement as imprinted in the work that moves a viewer who is unfamiliar with the artist's world. Indeed, each of them may see something else in the representations, a different image, perhaps even a different symbolic meaning, but the essential message for the work's success is the human emotion. Masser's artistic practice imparts private feelings and emotions upon the object itself, charging it with her inner self, which emanates therefrom. However, these works do not operate on the emotional level only. They also incorporate a somewhat remote reference which sustains them on a rational level. On one level, the works relate to the law of contradiction and transformation or metamorphosis. Observing the series as a whole is like following a plant's process of transformation: from a seed to a full-fledged flower whose stamens are full of more seeds, up to its withering, and so on and so forth*. Moreover, the seemingly simple vegetal images may be perceived as the portrait of a person going through the various phases of life, through the temporal and transitional cycles, with the passing of time; an analogue to Man's spiritual world. In the past, Zehava Masser worked with thin layers of color to which she added vegetal elements shaped with wire. Now, these fine, delicate, almost hidden layers are replaced by the richly-hued highly-textured colors, and the image-shaping wires - by pieces of metal Masser found on the street or at building sites. The themes tackled by the works have not changed: solitary plants depicted as emerging gently, with lyrical nobility, disclosing at the same time both vulnerability and inner strength. The solitary flower recurring in most of the works is always erect and lonesome within the vast space. Save the flower, in the majority of the works the space remains almost entirely empty. A closer look reveals that the solitude of the flower planted within boundless expanses is, in fact, a seclusion within a dense and confined space. Indeed, the empty space is treated in a meticulous, highly expressive manner. Most of the representations appear flat; the flower's stem emerges from the painting with almost no room around it. The works lack the perspective depth which allows a realization of the open space experience. The detachment of the plant and its surroundings is total, further emphasizing its splendid seclusion. The plant's solitude indicates that, in her works, Masser is interested not only in the solitary plan, but also in the enveloping void. The delicate spatula work lends the immense space surrounding the flowers qualities of a void charged with meaning; similar to a vast desert whose empty expanses are also swarming with minute meaningful murmurs. These attest to the private thrills experienced by the art pilgrim, who is willing to listen and who heed the silence and stillness enveloping the solitude of his travels. This stillness triggers a desire to open one's eyes and listen to sounds coming from less visible strata. See, for example, the delicate, almost invisible traces left by leaves and flowers on plaster walls; nearly invisible marks, like a memory of life which has become ossified and is now but a frozen memory. The immense spaces express a desire for and an interest in exploring and tracing the feelings evoked by the vacuum, by the void which resulted from the process of destruction. The artistic issue raised by these works relates to the eternal artistic question, namely: Where is the limit of line beyond which it is no longer possible to substract or detract from the image. The question of diminishing to the point of annulment; or, what is the point of no-return beyond which the object's substantiality is impaired. Zehava Masser defines it as "avoiding redundant strokes". She selects each and every stroke carefully, seeking to define its significance. Similarly, the selected mode of image depiction, like the flower which is shaped in metal, renders a disruption of meaning - a contrast between the hard metal and the delicate plan. One may elaborate and dub it a confrontation on the verge of a void. The delicate wall treatment, serving as a backdrop for the flower or the flowerpot, often brings to mind the treatment of plaster walls in Mediterranean architecture. He same multi-layered textures accumulating on the walls over the years; a white plaster blending with sea-sand and dust, until the wall becomes a colorful combination turning to hues of ochre or sand. The color tells the story of architecture's aging process, as if it were a human entity with an added wrinkle to its cheek with every passing year. The color is applied layer upon layer, like applying plaster on the walls of a building that has been endlessly renovated. Indeed, every additional layer of renovation adds to the beauty of the texture. Color upon color, hue upon hue, turn this story of aging into a story of life: creation, deterioration, destruction , and renewal. Hagai Segev Translation: Daria Kassovsky

* See Y. Ben-Aharon's reference to the affinity between plants and the artist's work, and what can be learned from it. " The plants process of maximal diminution as a seed, its maximal expansion as a developed plant and its re-diminution as a fruit-seed resembles the process occuring in the encounter between artist, artwork and viewer." Y. Ben-Aharon, "Learning from the World of Flora", Studio Israeli Art Magazine 3-4. 1989, pp. 40-41 (Hebrew).

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