Food chain and Fresh Paint

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A 32-dunam space – once housing Bezeq’s warehouses – is the charmless South Tel Aviv location for the  fourth round of Fresh Paint, a four day Contemporary Art Fair where, alongside booths occupied by some 30 well known galleries with their stable of artists, a new generation of artists are strutting their stuff.

Nivi Alroy, an interdisciplinary artist, is once more a star. Last year, she was awarded the Igal Ahouvi Art Collection’s Most Promising Artist Award, a prize that included a solo exhibition at this year’s event. And here it is: Food Chain, another distinctive presentation.

Unlike most younger-generation artists, Alroy has already decided on the direction she wants to go. In the last few years in New York and Paris she has being showing installations whose themes are derived from microbiology. In this instance, her main thrust is not only the vulnerability of private lives and spaces in relation to outside forces or situations that come to destroy them, but also the way that life nevertheless goes on, subject to different laws.

Dripping City, animated piece, 2011

As Tami Katz-Frieman, curator of this exhibition, points out Alroy completed all the works on exhibit – two sculptural installations and an animation piece backed up by brush paintings – well before the massive Tsunami swept north-western Japan. And yet, if one views photographs of this disaster showing water engulfing whole communities, buildings collapsing and spewing out the contents of people’s homes, one realizes just how topical Alroy’s themes have become.

Her animated piece Dripping City, viewed through a slit in a wall and comprising a wall drawing and a video loop, features an unending chain of catastrophe:  a ‘moving’ stairway of miniature furniture and domestic equipment tumbling from a roof top into a bucket only to rise again.

Detail from Wave Land, wood, porcelain and mixed media, 2010-2011

Medusa Gigantean, one of her two mixed media sculptures is named for a mushroom-shaped jelly fish with tentacles 40 feet long; an image that Alroy reproduces in porcelain in the form of an oozing white shape, with its feelers constructed from wires and cables. This voracious creature wraps itself around clumps of houses, shutters and other household objects, all meticulously constructed from hundreds of matches and popsicle sticks. Ignoring boundaries, it also encroaches on a private space as represented in the gallery by an old armchair. From this point on, subject to some unknown impetus, parts of this installation, now known as Wave Land, ‘grow’ upwards again, creating a new anti-gravitational system that abandons the normal order of things.

Alroy’s second installation Chacun Pour Soi (Everyone for Himself), is based on a popular 1864 painting by French artist Philippe Rousseau showing a bitch nursing her puppies, but, at the same time, nosing into a basket filled with dirty plates and the remains of a meal. The porcelain bulldog in Alroy’s three dimensional version is almost identical to the animal featured in her exhibit in last year’s Fresh Paint 3. But then, its head stuck into a box served as a metaphor for an outer force invading a private space. On this occasion, a bitch is suckling a puppy, her head buried in a sack that doesn’t contain food, but the pitiful remains of some town of city, perhaps all that remains after an ecological disaster. This is an intriguing exhibition, and one looks forward, once again, to Alroy’s further development of her fascinating themes.

ANGELA LEVINE

Fresh Paint # 4 2011 will take place at The Botanic Garden site, by Reality Fund, 51 Ben Zvi Street, next to the Abu Navot garden from April 5 – 9, 2011. Admission is 35 NIS and includes entry to the Fresh Paint Salon on a space-available basis. The Bloomfield Stadium parking lot is recommended, and Dan Bus Lines reaching the area are: 92, 84, 154, 119, 41, 2, 1. Opening hours are: April 5, 6, & 7 from 17:00 – 22:00, April 8 from 11:00 – 19:00, and April 9 from 10:00 – 22:00.

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