Suddenly You Decided You’re A Sun
“Nature is a temple in which living pillars
Sometimes give voices to confused words;
man passes there through forests of symbols
Which look at him with understanding eyes.”
Charles Baudelaire, Correspondences, The Flowers of Evil, 1857
(Translation by William Aggeler (Fresno, CA: Academy Library Guild, 1954)
Yoav Hirsch, as many autodidacts, has been expressing himself throughout the years by the means of many different techniques and media, from plaster sculptures to wooden installations, from textiles to Haiku writing. However, the body of works currently on show in the Test-Tube space of the gallery is composed of the artist’s latest oils and aquarelles.
The decision to focus only on those two techniques comes from a double exigency. First of all, although Hirsch is what one would call a multi-disciplinary artist, painting has always been a red thread in his career. Hirsch’s discovery of art and art history at a young age came from observing, and then reproducing Renaissance paintings. By learning from the Old Masters, Hirsch sensu stricto embodied the classical definition of the artist as craftsman.
On the second hand, the choice of showing watercolors, which is a relatively new feature in Hirsch’s work, seemed coherent as to equilibrate the artist’s quest for consistency as a painter. Indeed, painting requires patience. Hirsch paints with oil, which allows work on many layers but also demands a long drying time. Watercolor, on the contrary, enables the artist to explore a relative intuitiveness. Unlike oil –or even acrylic- painting, water is an active and complex partner in the watercolor process, changing both the absorbency and shape of the paper when it is wet and the outlines and appearance of the paint as it dries.
The two mentioned mediums allow Hirsch to introduce to the viewer his inner debate on line and color, rapidity and reflection, outline and subject matter.
In Hirsch’s paintings and watercolors, the subject matters are integrated and interlinked through many influences that might seem bewildering at first sight. From the Chinese legend of Peiwho (Peiwho, 2013, Oil on canvas) to more recognizable art history topoi such as the XVIIth century vanitas (Adam, 2014, Watercolor on paper), a Dance inspired by Henri Matisse (Talking to the Stars, 2014, Watercolor on paper), or Pablo Picasso’s blue period (One Eye Like Half Moon, 2014); Hirsch is telling the story of his artistic process as an autodidact.
Moreover, what leaves the viewer with a lasting impression of Hirsch’s work is the feeling of being part of a narration populated of strange yet familiar faces in the heart of a symbolic environment which sways between naturalistic and phantasmagoric.
In an almost kinesthetic approach, nature, humans and animals are intertwined in a harmonious dialogue. Hirsch is introducing the viewers to a symbolic and mysterious golden age for them to decipher. This relationship with the viewer is asserted in the direct address –“you decided you’re”- in the exhibition’s title. The sun, which is absent from all the works in the show, works as a suggested symbolic element introduced by the viewer’s presence in Hirsch’s narration.