Zohar Cohen: No End
Solo Exhibition at Beit Haomanim in Jerusalem
Zohar Cohen exhibits paintings of interiors, alongside portraits and landscape oil paintings and engravings. In nearly all his works, the image is handled in a similar way – using a methodical and rhythmical technique evoking a sense of deconstruction and construction, convergence and diffusion, presence and non-presence. Spaces in the home, akin to the open-air, oscillate in a restrained rhythm and in chaotic vibrancy, in failed attempts to exist.
In Cohen's paintings, one may observe the inherent struggle between Being and Nonbeing, in relation to the perception of The Truth of the philosopher, Martin Heidegger. The truth is described picturesquely by Heidegger as "veiling itself", eluding our grasp. As he sees it, the truth is not a present entity, but rather, is born of the conflict between being and nonbeing, and the work of art, as an act of seeking the truth, maintains the tension and the balance between these polar extremes in the constant struggle between manifestation and vanishment.1
In Cohen's interior paintings, it appears as though there has been an attempt to delineate the boundaries of the home, and contemporaneously – to penetrate these boundaries. The encounter between representations of the interior and exterior is interpreted as a set of extremes juxtaposed: unity and fragmentation, distinction and assimilation, appearance and disappearance. The images that subtly appear inside the cramped rooms create a sense of shattered intimacy. They are assimilated in the expanses of the room in such a way that their very existence and distinction from the room are virtually effaced.
The compression of the domestic spaces (as well as the crowdedness of the landscapes) flickers, as though it was trying to elude our gaze. The dynamic, deceiving energy, implies endless variation which does not facilitate capturing the palpable or the tangible. The light in Cohen's paintings is not an external "Vermeerian" light that floods the objects like a floodlight, but rather a flickering light more akin to the light of a computer screen. The surface creates the sense of a mechanical scanner that pointillistically exposes a dismantled optical image of space or perhaps the glow of memory particles.
Cohen asserts that negation, which is dominant in the search for truth in his art, has led him to absolute skepticism. "In my paintings, there is no light or shadow, there are no contours. Conversely, perspective is extremely relevant to my work. In some cases, it is the main theme itself. I paint as though in third person singular, like a barometer, attentive to the pulse rising in space. The fact that I play around with perspective does not make me vanish therein while I paint, an act which is carried out somewhat in the form of submergence-waking up-submergence, inside and outside, towards - and from without - the works of art. I seek to feel and to understand, so that the heart thinks in unison with the brain".
1 Martin Heidegger, The Origin of the Work of Art, translated by Shlomo Tzemach, Dvir Publishing, 1968.
Neta Gal-Azmon, 2013