We are pleased to present the first solo exhibition of the Israeli artist Sahar Zukerman in our Vienna gallery. With ‘Everpink’, Zukerman transforms the exhibition space into a dense jungle teeming with menace and promise alike. In this new series, the artist explores the loss of naivety, which fills his colourful compositions with an acute sense of tension.
Zukerman’s exuberant pictorial compositions lead viewers into fantastic dreamscapes oscillating between paradisiacal and nightmarish visions. His new series revolves around the topos of the jungle as an utopian fiction. Exotic plants and wild animals populate these intensely coloured paintings, which seem to glow from within. The motif of the jungle combines the idea of unspoiled nature with the concept of the uncanny. Far from civilization, it can be both a sanctuary and a place full of hidden dangers that can only be guessed. The peaceful idyll in Zukerman’s paintings is deceptive. An eerie tension pervades his expressive compositions, which are pervaded by inscrutable darkness. Skeletons lurking behind thickets allude to the transience of human life, while the vibrant red tones are reminiscent of blood. Zukerman, who grew up in Israel, explores the seemingly irretrievable loss of the insouciance and naivety characteristic of childhood. His earlier works, in particular, incorporate experiences of war and violence alongside distinctly innocent motifs. His new series of paintings is a poetic examination of this loss, in which the child’s gaze is time and again disrupted by a subtle, barely perceptible brutality. The utopia is repeatedly shattered, undermining our longing for a peaceful paradise.
The jungle also fascinates Zukerman from an artistic point of view. Despite his classical education, he does not only feel indebted to the history of painting. Indeed, as a storyboard artist, illustrator and grafiti artist, he has experimented with various techniques that he also uses in his multi-layered compositions. Expressive brushstrokes and almost abstract forms coexist with sharp outlines and strong contrasts that appear to be computer-generated. There are allusions to poster design, comics and tattoo art, whose dynamics and compositional techniques Zukerman adapts to his personal iconography, with formal references to picture books establishing a further connection to the world of childhood. Another central aspect is music, which manifests itself as rhythmic repetitions and recurrent structures in his work. But more than this, Zukerman’s source of inspiration is life itself, with its wealth of impressions, experiences and encounters, whether in Berlin or elsewhere. He always carries his sketchbook with him, which he uses to develop his visual imagery as well as his thematic agenda. Many motifs have been collected a long time before they are incorporated into his work by way of addition and association, the emphasis lying on the interaction of the individual elements that overlap on the canvas. Zukerman’s work is not about secret codes, riddles or hidden symbolism, but about a feeling conveyed by the painting, which viewers can experience unbiased, as the fantastic images with their inherent tension and complex expressiveness speak for themselves.
Sahar Zukerman was born in England in 1985 and grew up in Tel Aviv. He studied with Leiko Ikemura at the University of Arts in Berlin and has been living and working in Berlin since 2009. His works have been shown in solo exhibitions in Berlin and Leipzig as well as in group exhibitions in Moscow, Vienna, Berlin, Jerusalem and Dresden.