Amit Cabessa Taps into the Ancient and the Childlike

Nothing Personal,” a show united by an earth-and-fire color palette and an expressive childlike hand, now on view at Hezi Cohen Gallery in Tel Aviv, presents the newest body of work by Israeli artist Amit Cabessa. Painting with limited colors in oil, oil bar, and acrylate polymer on canvas (and sometimes wood), Cabessa employs a recently developed visual language in these works. Moving away from his earlier representational practice, the artist breaks down painting into basic gestures and relies on instinct and physicality rather than visual truth. 

  • Installation view of “Amit Cabessa / Nothing Personal” at Hezi Cohen Gallery, courtesy of Hezi Cohen Gallery. Photo: Liat Elbling

Cabessa’s paintings, while they may at first appear abstract, upon close examination coalesce into dynamic scrawls that often resemble a child’s early endeavors into drawing. The artist responds to the simplest yet most poignant things in the world, like rainbows—as we see in I Am Rainbow (2015), a composition made up primarily of negative space, with sweeping arcs of primary colors and balls of red paint. In this conceptually linked group of works, Cabessa intermingles representations of flowers, the sun, and God—as is indicated by the works’ titles—and couches them in pools of color and squiggly marks. 

In Red Flower (2014), a deep crimson form emerges from a canvas filled with black, blue, grey, and yellow gestures, save for the bottom of the canvas, which has been covered with a series of light blue brushstrokes. In contrast, She-God (2015), a bright, simpler canvas, portrays a similar flower-like form, yet appears like a floating organism, conveying a lighter, uplifting tone. The two works diverge in the way the artist has applied the paint, the colors employed, and the resulting moods they possess—yet they equally compel viewers to seek out meaning.

Echoing the concerns of art-historical greats such as Cy Twombly and Wassily Kandinsky, Cabessa’s paintings reflect the simplification of form and the link to the spiritual realm that comes naturally to humans in childhood but that is often lost with age. In his quest to break down representation to its essentials, Cabessa reminds us that the creative instinct exists in everyone from the outset and therefore the work is “nothing personal.” 

—K. Sundberg

Amit Cabessa / Nothing Personal” is on view at Hezi Cohen Gallery, Tel Aviv, Apr. 30–Jun. 13, 2015.

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