Dual Exhibition at Zemack Contemporary Art:
Orit Hofshi and Mahmood Kaiss | Standpoint
February 14 – March 28, 2019
Curator: Yaron Haramati
On February 14th, 2019 Zemack Contemporary Art opened a dual show by the two artists Orit Hofshi and Mahmood Kaiss. Orit Hofshi (b.1959, Kibbutz Matsuva, Israel), whose has just been acquired by The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, creates monumental works depicting distant, neo-romatic landscapes. In her works, the forces of nature and destruction mingle and mix as she maintains an ongoing dialogue between the figures and their encircling settings.
Along with Hoshi’s work, Mahmood Kaiss, Israeli-Palestinian artist (b.1985, Kafr Nahaf, Israel) is showing his wooden site-specific installations and concrete coins. Kaiss is known to be one of the youngest artist to have a solo show in Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Kaiis is influenced by the traditional “Arabesque” - an ornamentation style stunningly intertwining vegetal or geometric designs. In his works, Kaiss examines the possibility of and the meaning of detaching the arabesque from its familiar, traditional framework and transporting it to a different stylistic, material, spatial, and conceptual realm. On the other hand, his concrete coins serve as an attempt to remember and serve as a reminder of the time before 1948, where the Israeli-Palestinian conflict existed.
The exhibition includes site-specific installations, sculptures, paintings and prints where wood is the basic raw material and the connecting theme in the artists practice. The work of each artist is fundamentally different, but one of the central aspects of their art forms an affinity between their works, planted precisely in the difference between tree and wood. What distinguishes tree from wood? The tree grows, changes, yields, responds to the seasons and its life cycle. Wood, in contrast, is a manmade raw material created after the tree’s death or intentional felling. And so, tree is life and wood is death, one is nature and the other is man, one is the wild and the other is culture.
If you will, the transformation of the tree is in itself the entire story – mankind’s imprint on the world, meaning, the traces that man leaves in the world as the generator of culture in a natural space, who leaves devastation in his wake. Hofshi’s painted worlds are apocalyptic visions that portray man in the ruins of his culture, their setting alludes to (without fixing them in) the current sociopolitical climate. Kaiss’s arabesques force nature (tree) to become raw material (wood), disciplining the raw material to serve as culture and tradition. Removed from their natural religious context (mosques, holy books, combined with calligraphy etc.), the arabesques stand as artworks that hold both the geopolitical conflicts and the added value in the relationship between Islamic culture and Western culture.
The juxtaposition of the two artworks created by the two artists brings to mind additional dualities such as art/craft, painting/installation, figuration/abstraction, expressive/geometric, secular/religious, destruction/construction, finite/infinite; and if we turn to the artists themselves, we can also add to these: woman/man, senior artist/emerging artist, Jewish/Muslim.