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After the Sun Sets 

Julie M. Gallery, Tel Aviv

April 27 - June 2, 2012

Tali Ben Bassat’s exhibition at Julie M. Gallery, “After the Sun Sets,” features paintings and drawings in varying formats made in the last year. They present a reflexive exploration of the foundations of early-twentieth-century modernist painting and its great painters. The common thread between Ben Bassat’s works is the thematic threesome of portrait, mask, and skull, as well as the relationship between the three as symbolic markers of human conditions.

Ben Bassat’s works, in various techniques – collage and heavy impasto; watery, almost transparent colors, like a memory impressed on paper; or fine drawings in charcoal or colored pencils – are, first and foremost, variable representational means of color, stain, line, light and shadow. The starting point of the creative process is an encounter with the material and an endless engagement with the formal questions of paintings. Ben Bassat’s paintings are characterized by a rich, intense palette; red, green, and orange alongside the dominant presence of black. This results in expressive, powerful, dramatic works.

In her wanderings along the timeline of art history Ben Bassat has fascinating encounters with early-twentieth-century modernist painting. From every encounter she retrieves new emphases and references, which serve as a research engine at different stages of her work, like an endless reservoir of knowledge seared on her mind. Visual memories of modernist paintings echo in her paintings, as the exhibition title implies. And so her figures – mostly women shrouded in mystery, emitting power and vulnerability at one and the same time – often resemble Edvard Munch’s crazed women, or figures from Kirchner’s expressive compositions or from Ensor’s dramas. Ben Bassat’s women make a deep impression on the viewer. 

Ben Bassat’s exhibition engages with the process by which painting is made, with the medium and its capacity to stir one’s emotions. By reexamining the early modernist painting, which underlies contemporary art, she has developed her own mature painterly language.

Text by Sally Haftel Nave

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