Art in Vouge

2 May 2012 | Petru Russu

The Desire to See: The Paintings of Rotem Reshef

Extract from text by Joshua Simon


The color in Rotem Reshef’s paintings changes one from a viewer to a seer. From one who relates to an object or an image, the viewer in front of her works becomes a seer; Colors, shapes, sizes, and light appear in front of her.

Reshef brings nature into her paintings. The figuration at which she hints (hair, particles, cells, molecules, thorns) brings the cosmic and molecular nature into the abstract. Be it the enlarged microscopic image where color cells sail and meet or the suggestive landscape, where among the stains and shapes a foliage, a tree trunk,and branches can be discerned; or the telescopic image suggested, where the stains receive a cosmic haze - the shapes in the painting have meaning as content. Reshef's works widen the sight beyond the viewing techniques of photography, telescopes and microscopes. They suggest something that is beyond our familiarity with the world. By doing this they expand our sight.

The painting holds within it the twofold nature of something between spontaneity and master plan. The technique Reshef created and refined constantly alters the painting. The merging of colors and the fluid texture of the canvas; the different levels of absorption and expansion of paint, assimilation and blending of color; the filled spaces and the voids left exposed - all take part in creating the final piece. Thus, when exhibited, the painting is present as a constant event. Reshef's painting is a document, an action, an event and a narrative. It documents an occurrence that happened around it and upon it in the artist's studio, and it exists as a constant event of seeing. But the tension between the temporary and permanent in Reshef's painting is not only part of the history of its working process, but is a part of their performance in space.

The colors and forms created by the blind dazzling that occurs when staring at the sun with eyes shut constitute a gaze into the light and into the skin and subsequently into abstraction and into the body. In the still dark of the eye, the affect of the glittering light dims the relations between interior and exterior, and between abstraction and figuration. Reshef's paintings are all sight and a desire to see. They were born in the bright blindness of staring directly at the sun with eyes shut. The drama that takes place in this stillness; the attempt of the eye within the eye to follow the spots of light within the darkness is carried on in Reshef's Paintings.

The pivot of Reshef's painting is light and color. Both alter and lead the eye to different places and both are there inside it. Reshef's abstraction fixes the viewer as the one to link the elements, the one to follow the light of the image. At the core of Reshef's work is the desire to see. It links color, which is the basis for form in her paintings, with light, which is the basis for seeing.