Almost Paradise

Almost Paradise

I have always been drawn to places that somehow defy definition. Most of them I discovered in the garden supply stands along the roadside on the way to Jericho. For many kilometers along this road, it seems as if rows of decorative statues of animals, birds, fruit, and dwarves have sprouted out of the sand like an army of ghosts
.
After my initial excitement at coming so close to these strange statues, I discovered in this place something that I had never previously noticed. Looking down the long rows of plaster statues, I pondered the realness of their presence and the possible existence of some original. I questioned if there really was one singular statue after which they all were modeled. Was there in fact such an original ? I looked at the pillars adorned with plaster leaves, covered with a coarse layer of grey-brown paint. Obviously they are an imitation of something…, but of what, exactly? What style are they trying to imitate? What is the meaning of this theatrically scattered arrangement of mysterious statues sprouting out of the sand? Perhaps it is nothing more than a random collection of Mediterranean-style kitsch decorations?… Or is there something else hiding here
?
Pondering the enigma of this huge collection of statues standing as a silent witness to, or as the background scenery for some drama unfolding on the roadside, I began to sense another characteristic of these scenes: all of these places have been transformed into ex-territory. After all, such garden supply stands are scattered throughout the country, and usually appear to be suspended between worlds. They seem to float in some geographically, politically, etc., undefined metaphysical dimension. In other words, they give the impression of existing somewhere, beyond time
.
And indeed, these places seem to appear exactly the same even after many years, as if the laws of time do not apply to them.… And obviously, in an ex-territorial dimension between worlds, where an observer is forced to confront the question of copy and original – anything can happen, such as, Almost Paradise, a local, Mediterranean drama with no finale
….
The flowing of blue in the Almost Paradise series symbolize the flow of life and the flow of ideas. The blue drippings filled the drawings and became an
integral part of my sculptures. Reflection upon the concrete animals on the roadsides gave rise to the idea of a paradise that has frozen in the sands. During my work on the series, I saw images before my eyes of a concrete-and-plaster paradise that is entirely imitation and copy, yet at the same time entirely a longing for a “real” paradise…. The sculptures I made are directly connected to the “original” of the garden supply stands that I discovered on the way to Jericho. My dialogue with “place” and “original” was conducted through the two-dimensional drawings and ultimately returned to three dimensions in the form of blue-and-white sculptures
.
In my drawings I intentionally exaggerated the dialogue between the living and “breathing” things on the one hand, and the “objects,” on the other hand: between “real” life and still-life.In Almost Paradise, the concrete ducks surround the colorful parrots who seem very much alive. The gushing of the fountain is juxtaposed with the lifelessness of plaster chickens, plastic apples, and clay pitchers. A concrete eagle tries to take off while harnessed to a heavy chariot laden with clay ducks, pitchers, and flowerpots. A koala bear naps on a tree branch over an abandoned café that is gradually fading into the yellow mist of the landscape. Two pink flamingos walk toward the concrete flowerpots that are arranged like sarcophagi and that pompously exhibit plastic fruit and giant mushrooms. The images of these fruit and mushrooms recalls the pagan fertility rites.… A pile of random objects surprisingly recalls the postmodern sculpture of the end of the last century.… And the tree? The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil grows humbly in the left-hand corner of the drawing, while another tree stump lies behind the flowerpots, blending into the grey dust.… Adam and Eve float on the water, their hands
stretched out to their sides. Water spouts from their mouths. They are floating in a sea of unnecessary objects.… Where are they floating to?

Lena Zaidel 2015

Within Reach
Lena Zaidel’s series, “Almost Paradise,” was conceived after the large exhibition, “Street Wolves,” which was exhibited two years ago in the Artist’s House in Jerusalem, and expresses a spirit of the new. After over ten years during which she worked on wolves roaming the Jerusalem streets, there is a shift. The scenery in which the scenes that appear in the works take place are not Jerusalem landscapes and the heros are not wolves, but human beings and other animals.
Here too, the works are based on photographs. In this new series there is a combination of meticulous sketches and free flowing paint, and an attempt at different perspectives and three dimensional work: Almost Paradise echoes creation, the story of creation. There is humor in the choice of the title as well as in the works: on the one hand, freedom, joy, pomposity, and wild carnival figures, and on the other hand, the figures that appear in the work are ambiguous and are not specifically related to the traditional concept of “Paradise.”
There is an encounter between life and non-life, between the breathing and the frozen, and boundaries are fluid and blurred. The series is based on photographs that depict pieces of landscape along the way from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea – the periphery of Israeli civilization. These are stands at which kitsch figurines are sold for garden decoration. On the one hand, there is regional cooperation – peace, business as usual – but on the other hand, it is all scenery.
A pastural corner, an oasis in the desert, grass beneath an umbrella, tables and chairs with cars in the background – peace and quiet – but a terrifying snake that winds along the entire painting disturbs the idyllic picture, while a sign anouncing an ATM machine reminds us of our mundane lives. A nude couple, not clear whether dead or alive, floats in the waters of a river or lake, while streams of water gush from their mouths and around them float jugs, flower pots, and garden decorations, and their hands almost touch each other – as in Michelangelo’s painting, “The Creation of Man,” and as in the title of Gilead Sher’s book, Within Reach: almost peace – almost Paradise.
~ Oded Zaidel

Lena Zaidel: Almost Paradise
Curator: Oded Zaidel
Opening: Thursday: 26.11.2015‭ ‬at‭ ‬20:00‭ ‬pm
Closing: Saturday: 26.12.2015

In Lena Zaidel’s series, “Almost Paradise,” there is an encounter between life and non-life, between the breathing and the frozen, and boundaries are fluid and blurred. The series is based on photographs that depict pieces of landscape along the way from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea – the periphery of Israeli civilization. These are stands at which kitsch figurines are sold for garden decoration. On the one hand, there is regional cooperation – peace, business as usual – but on the other hand, it is all scenery

A pastural corner, an oasis in the desert, grass beneath an umbrella, tables and chairs with cars in the background – peace and quiet – but a terrifying snake that winds along the entire painting disturbs the idyllic picture, while a sign anouncing an ATM machine reminds us of our mundane lives. A nude couple, not clear whether dead or alive, floats in the waters of a river, while streams of water gush from their mouths and around them float jugs, flower pots, and garden decorations, and their hands almost touch each other – as in Michelangelo’s painting, “The Creation of Man,” and as in the title of Gilead Sher’s book, “Within Reach”: almost peace – almost Paradise

From the text by Oded Zaidel, Curator

Exhibition Details
Exhibition Date
26.12.15 - 26.11.15
Exhibition Website
לחצו כאן

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