The preparation for the show in Zurich feels as if the process itself is part of the final work. For the past months the curator, Ann-Kathrin and I have held an ongoing dialogue nurturing ideas and exchanging texts by Anne Carson and Bernadette Mayer to name a few, which will feed into a publication accompanying the show. It will act as an experimental piece taking a life of its own - A collective discourse between female artists and writers, exploring varying outlets of communication and multiple points of view.
I’m not sure if there is one specific or definitive concept for the show. Holding onto the verbal and the visual simultaneously, it will be dealing with thoughts around the fluid, the malleable, the innumerable. It will include new paintings and display structures customized for the gallery space.
It’s a really special project. I’m definitely learning a lot from working in the midst of a pandemic, embracing a new dynamic and an ever-changing reality, finding inspiration in the present moment not forcibly reaching completion. I’m excited to see how things will unfold.
My grandmother was a sculptor, and my grandfather supported the arts so there were many works and art books around the house. I remember a small book of erotic drawings by Picasso which I liked, de Kooning's Woman series and the gnarly elongated figures of Schiele and Toulouse-Lautrec.
The military service is glorified in Israeli culture. It always made me feel uneasy and perplexed. It was an intense, complex experience and I had very little privacy, but I was drawing while on guard. It made me realise how precious time is and motivated me to push for what I want.
My dream was to go to Bezalel Academy of Art once I finished the service, although after being immersed in the political situation for so long it was difficult to see myself in Jerusalem. It’s a beautiful city, drowned in religion and tension. For me, it seemed impossible to make art there which wasn’t dictated by these issues.
At the Slade I made some works painting on my uniform’s fabric. I needed some kind of outlet for that, though as time went by it became harder to directly and genuinely address these topics, being far away from it all. I think those experiences will always be present in the work in one way or another.
Drawing is an intimate portal to freedom. I draw everywhere. Sometimes in the studio, yet I prefer to draw when I’m alone, at home. Hours spent in the studio are usually dedicated to painting.
While the top layer of paint is still wet, I start. I like the ability to change, cover and re-work some areas in that sort of timeframe before the paint dries up and the image is ‘sealed’. I guess I’m trying to reach a balance with my ability to control and to stay open to the element of surprise.
Each work has a different rhythm, some can take weeks to become ‘resolved’ as the figure shape-shifts. I get excited when things go wrong and I’m forced to find new solutions.
I don’t really restrict my palette. It’s a matter of a trial and error and I go with my gut.
I like to look at colours in nature. I recently printed some pictures of sea creatures that may have filtered into my work – sea slugs and anemones, octopi, starfish... Maybe it’s an extension of my infatuation with the ocean, the inside, the boundless. Sometimes more specific - the red of the figure in ‘double negation’ came from an alabaster figurine of Astarte (The Canaanite equivalent to Venus), which has ruby stones embedded in her eyes and in her navel.
I collect images as a way of constantly feeding my visual curiosity. It helps me to understand where I want to go next. A composition or a sense of movement can initiate a painting, although it happens very quickly, I lose the original reference after I get what I need.
There is no conscious decision... I guess I stop once I feel that I’m interested in the character. It can be frustrating when they come out as too spooky or too pleasing to look at - but yes, I need them to carry some kind of eeriness otherwise I tend to get bored.
Not always – some of them are looking outward, avoiding eye contact or just daydreaming, fantasising about a different world perhaps. But when they do stare right back at you, they judge, they seduce, they will take everything you have. I think they are looking through me first and only then they reach the viewer.
Before working this way, I made paintings which had areas left ‘unfinished’ – the blank canvas and initial sketch left visible. I think I was struggling with the question of when is a painting finished and what does it really mean? I wanted to reflect positively on absence, lack.
Working through the paint before it was dry was serendipitous. A tutor noticed it and said my marks were about removal. I became a bit obsessed with the gesture of taking away, scraping and revealing. Using my ‘ruined’ hardened brushes, I started making figures that way, studying my own language. It felt like I was finding something that was naturally mine, that could go on forever.
The negative space is a powerful concept and I think it is very much needed in today’s chaotic climate, where everything needs to be available - on display, on-demand - consumable.
That title came about when I was reading The Laugh of the Medusa by Hélène Cixous. She urges women to use their own bodies as a way to communicate and to go against the oppressive nature of western ‘logical’ thought. She calls them to become more dominant in the field of literature by using their desires and to create their own language for themselves - ‘The language of 1,000 tongues which knows neither enclosure nor death. To life she refuses nothing. Her language does not contain, it carries; it does not hold back, it makes possible.’
The blue in that work seemed to me like a big fearless river so I’ve merged it together. If a title doesn’t come to me intuitively, I take words from songs, poems or books, anything that triggers me. I like to play with it.
These days it seems so hard to think long into the future or to plan anything at all. I want to take the time to make without much external pressures, trying new materials, surfaces and scales, and perhaps having more than one figure in each work. I’m curious to see how it will evolve!
It’s is always there, wide open. It makes me feel safe to know my hands can make something come to life. It goes beyond conventional language; I love how it speaks without using any words. And although it is such a private, independent act, it has the ability to reach and touch everyone.