Artist Statement

The day I began my art studies was the day I left my parents’ home. At the age of fifteen, I packed to leave a small, southern desert town for a private boarding school in Jerusalem. Already then I was drawn to the subject of portraiture, studying the portraits of those that surrounded me and myself amongst them.

My Cousin Orly Self portrait with nail polish Amit

As an Israeli, I went through the mandatory two years of living and serving on a military base, where I continued to develop my critical views on politics, gender and class, focusing mostly on social awareness. Following my military service, I enrolled to Hamidrasha Art College, and not having the financial means to rent an apartment in the area I resolved to live in the dorms for the next four years. I began to systematically photograph my close circle of friends, all art students. Although these photographs were all staged, they amount to an extensive documentary work exposing our life during those years. During that time, I also produced and curated art events. My goal was to promote art that I believed in, regardless of established standards and conventions.

After graduating, I moved to Tel-Aviv. I kept creating my work, now as part of the young art scene and intellectual milieu of Israel. I authored a personal independent column on Facebook, discussing weekly art events from a constructive, admiring point of view (a crucial perspective on art, unfortunately lacking from contemporary critiques). My debut solo exhibition, utilizing the circumstances of moving to a new apartment, was spread over the three rooms of my empty house, summarizing a year and a half of the work I had created since graduating. The exhibition gained wide exposure and opened the path for additional projects that placed me as an active artist and an independent producer of young, fresh exhibitions, often taking a social and even political approach.

As a young Israeli artist, my work deals with subjects varying between the personal aspect of being part of the Israeli society and the socio-political complexity of everyday life in Israel. My personal themes include the documentation of fellow young artists within their habitats from the days we lived in the dorms to our present lives, creating and working in Tel Aviv (the cultural centre of Israel.) My photographs introduce inquiries of gender, aesthetics, class and social conventions into the spaces I document.

I dealt with the political aspect of life in Israel by painting a series of portraits of Israeli political leaders. For instance, I created portraits of former president Moshe Katsav (in Hebrew-katzav means butcher), who is now held on trial for rape and lewd assault, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, aggressively promoting extreme neo-liberal policies, or the current Minister of Education, crying for not having been appointed his more desirable position as head of the Ministry of Justice (thus reflecting the deterioration of the Israeli education system). Another one of my works is an interpretive adaptation of Millet’s “The Gleaners”. I manipulated the images of the women laborers to an upright position as a radical gesture of power to the laborers.

In the last years I became an obsessive image collector, a Facebook and Twitter addict, a stalker. The web is an extension of my mind and soul. I do research and try to examine the image I collect. This act leads me to create new pieces of art and series that are connecting in intellectual and intuitive ways. The computer’s command “Save-As” does not serves me just in practice. It symbolizes appropriation, interpretation, and re-definition, which I use as the basis for my art. I appropriate the images and use them in classical art techniques, such as: oil on canvas, ink and aquarelle on paper, as well as computer generated paintings. Out of my individual works I create series that consist of a critical look on social priorities, public figures, and on how the way people expose personal materials on the web reflects social values.

Another technique I use is creating new compositions by combining several images to create a new story or fictional situation. It is an almost ancient artistic tactic to quote images in order to fill them with new meanings. I use quotes to put a little bit of history into my art while dealing with topical issues. In the old-masters’-spirit, I use classic masterpieces as an analogy to for present political/social topics. My art pieces ask to create a new gaze into the past, as well as to socially criticize the preset in a direct and humorous way.

At the same time, I also deal with photography. I take pictures all the time, I’m thrilled about life and fascinated by communities, the way they are formed, and define themselves through language and signs, and the way new signs today redefine what a community is, through “liking”, “tagging”, “favoriting” or “retweeting”.

Another Term that inspires me and helps me define my art is “Zeitgeist”- The spirit of the time. This spirit reflects ideas, conventions, opinions and worldviews. The Zeitgeist represents a specific history, distinguishes and marks the social and cultural, values and the entire aesthetic atmosphere of the period.

Like our Zeitgeist, my work is eclectic and flooded with images, issues, techniques, layers and nuances that create a hole body of work, laden and copious.

 


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Copyright © 2018 Hadas Reshef – Artist. All Rights Reserved.
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