Sasha Okun, Recipient of the Mordechai Ish-Shalom Award for Life Achievement, 2014
An Artist’s Credo

In Sasha Okun’s Credo exhibition at the Agripas 12 Gallery, four conceptual works are presented that represent the artist’s “I believe.” The works are accompanied by texts and reflect his artistic weltanschauung toward several fundamental phenomena and concepts such as, “soup,” “self-portrait,” “ashes,” “hole,” and “eye.”
Three of the four works bear a unified structure and are comprised of text, three dimensional objects, and cautious oil paintings. Each of the works reveals the philosophical-comical aspect of the chosen subject. “Soup,” for instance, in Sasha Okun’s world, represents the essence of life, living waters, the seeds of life. For Sasha Okun, “soup” is the symbol of existence and of life itself. Indeed, in this small painting one can identify this analogy (soup = life) even in the human figure standing naked confronting the abyss — the human condition confronting life is like confronting a bowl of soup.
In the work, “My Self-Portrait with My Beloved Cat, or My Self-Portrait among Friends,” Sasha Okun confronts subjects such as the cycles of existence and the futility of it all. The artist’s ponderings (as Hamlet’s ponderings) are almost audible and resonate in the text hanging above a pile of ashes lying on the podium. The baby in the painting next to the pile of ashes stretches out its hand in despair toward the observer…. In this context, it is obviously a paraphrase of Rembrandt’s painting, “The Return of the Lost Son.” Only that for Sasha Okun, everything is inverted: the lost son is the baby who looks toward us, rather than an adult who bows before his father with his back toward us. Here, with a clever trick, Sasha Okun has transformed himself into a begging child and the observer into the baby’s father who is forever situated outside of the frame.
In the third work, “The Hole, In the Hole and Behind the Hole,” Sasha Okun constructs a complex monologue surrounding the concept of “a hole,” the hole that symbolizes the eternal emptiness. Or rather: he addresses himself to the emptiness, faces the Great Nothingness, cries out into the Hole. He raises the question regarding the indifference of the tangible and visible world and regarding the inability of the artist to create an authentic self-portrait. In order to emphasize the inherent contradiction in the idea of reflection into the Great Nothingness, Sasha Okun presents a mirror covered with white paint that can only be discovered by peeking through the hole that he drilled.
And it seems that the painting of the woman, who is also standing naked confronting the abyss, bears a meaning that sums up the four works: the standing proud in confronting the Infinite Emptiness, confronting the Big Eye of the Universe (which may alo be the eye of “the Big Brother”), confronting “the Hole,” confronting “the Soup of Life,” and confronting the amazing Nothingness that crushes life into pulver, into dust and ashes, and then plants its sprouts anew in fields of mirrors covered with white paint.

Lena Zaidel


Sasha Okun – Ish-Shalom prize laureate 2014

Curators: Lena and Oded Zaidel

Opening: Thursday 28.08.2014 at 20:00

Exhibition Details
Exhibition Date
28.8 - 6.9.14

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