Fields of conflict
Like a bird on (barbed) wire, Tsibi Geva's paintings call to
a place of peace in a land of struggle.
By ROBERT G. EDELMAN
One of the first impressions, when confronted with Tsibi Geva's recent paintings, is of their chaotic and seductive beauty. This appearance of chaos is laboriously and carefully constructed, represented by layers of painterly accumulation, reflecting Geva's immersion in symbols of cultural disruption. The images that Geva chooses to disassemble and re-imagine are common yet potent, inexorably linking the Israeli and Palestinian territories: the Keffiyeh, sometimes resembling the chain link fence, and the Balata. Reduced to their simplest terms, the Keffiyeh is fraught with historical import: a headscarf worn by Palestinians and associated with the Intifada, but that was also worn by an earlier generation of Jewish fighters during Israel's struggle for independence. The Balata is a common ceramic tile (i.e.,terrazzo) used in Jewish settlements and throughout Israel, often installed by Arab workers, and also the name of a Palestinian refugee camp. For Geva, the abstract potential of these objects has led to variations that investigate the inherent ambiguity within each, as well as their utilitarian use as grid and embellishment.
Geva is able to focus on how these simplified constructs can have unexpected, associative power; they are ubiquitous and yet overlooked or ignored. For many years, he has used the images as either formal or decorative elements in his work as a means of constructing abstract space, either as a flat grid pattern, or as fragments scattered across a painterly field.
Works by: Tsibi Geva.
| January 18 - February 17, 2005|
Gallery: Annina Nosei
530 W 22nd St.
New York NY
Hours: Tue-Sat: 11-6
Phone: (212) 741-8695
Geva has also worked with found objects such as old tires, attaching them to a wall in a grid pattern, at once disarming and surrounding the viewer with the suggestion of violence (i.e., the tires used to set fires by children during the Intifada). Resolution is acheived through repetition and, by extension, unanimity. The artist also painted a flat grid, derived from the Keffiyeh pattern, on a wall underneath a Jerusalem soccer stadium, next to Hebrew graffiti that criticized Yitzhak Rabin. This combination of detritus and discontent appealed to Geva's ironic sense of historical moment and randomness. In several recent paintings Geva has incorporated earth colored fragments that resemble shards of terracotta pottery; they suggest centuries of history exploding into oblivion, some steeped in the color of blood. In another work, a single charred flower somehow stands defiantly against a heavily pigmented white wall, an image of dogged survival.
How does an Israeli artist (or Palestinian artist, for that matter) make paintings today that in any tangible way reflect the complicated and devastating reality of political, cultural and social upheaval that currently engulfs this tiny area of the Middle East? Geva has developed a compelling iconography that speaks to the difficulty of creating visual equivalents for a social dynamic that is both ancient in its heritage and its conflicts. For Geva, can there be a sense of hope within his work, for the present and the future? There is the point where and when his paintings take over, and their dynamism and subtle color can actually transcend the banality of his mundane starting point. Ultimately there is a hopefulness emanating from these paintings, a belief that through experiment and reorganization the beauty of the land and culture can emerge from this seemingly endless chaos; like one of Geva's humorous little birds, perched on a flower or barbed wire, waiting for a favorable wind.|
|FEBRUARY 16, 2005|
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painting from joseph corbitt, Oct 12, 2011
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