We Could Be Anywhere
Abstract art is unique in its opacity: a quality that's a double-edged sword. While working in the abstract has allowed me to surface paintings that hold just enough mystery, and keep my viewers at an arm’s length, these pieces have also given me the liberty to hide behind my work, keeping my vulnerability at a distance.
My most recent seven-piece series takes a wide leap from the art that viewers have come to associate me with. A body of work that started with digital photographs I took over the past five years, this series has materialized into my most personal and cohesive project to date. Rather than conveying a murky subtext through color schemes, velocities, and angles, these pieces provide viewers with palpable narratives. Recognizable human forms, body language, and innate impermanence replace bright silhouettes and overlapping patterns. While my subjects’ identities in this series will perhaps be foreign to my viewers, their component parts can be universally understood: you don’t need to be an Orthodox Jew from Israel, like the majority of my subjects of this series are, to empathize with the moments I’ve captured.
Unearthing images from my archive has allowed me to turn back to the visual medium where I first found authority. The photographs I used in this series furnished a renewed significance when I digitally isolated their subjects and scenes to create templates for my colored pencil works on canvas. The present pieces tell both faithful and fictional stories; sometimes I’ve reproduced entire scenes as shot on camera, and other times, I’ve created new stories by transporting my characters to new environments. While this series represents a new chapter in my artistry, it contains traces of my abstract tendencies. Throughout the series, I distort light, color, and depth, manipulating my subjects and their surroundings. No colored pencil piece perfectly reflects the natural world.
At large, this body of work investigates the common human experience. For over ten years, I’ve photographed people from all walks of life, but I seem to have an unexplainable affinity for capturing the stories of Orthodox Jews. While I am Jewish myself, the beliefs and practices that dictate my day-to-day life differ widely from those of my subjects. Our differences, however, don’t take away from my ability to feel their humility, their sorrow, and their courage: a message I hope viewers from all backgrounds and upbringings will feel upon viewing this work. Some may notice that many of the pieces feature characters that are in motion, shown from behind, journeying on the road that lies ahead of them. Inversely, other characters are seated and caught stagnant, embodying the moments where powering through and carrying on come second to pressing pause on life for a moment’s time.
On the most basic level, these subjects are no different than you and I: Some of us are keeping it moving, paving our paths, and some of us are stuck, contemplating our indecision, riddled with inaction. There is something mystically powerful about capturing my subjects in those specific moments, highlighting their universal characteristics and stories—because really, we could be anywhere.