From 10/3/2009 till 11/15/2009
The Ein Hod Central Art Gallery, one of the largest galleries in Israel, is located in the heart of the village. It was founded in 1953 during the first days of the establishment of the artists' village and has since been an integral part of the creative community.
Designated by the founders as a show case for artists living and working in the village, it soon gained the reputation of exhibiting outstanding original works.
The gallery today is a complex of several spaces, and in addition to permanently presenting works of over a hundred artists, showing solo and group exhibitions in all fields of arts and crafts from Israel and abroad, it is also a center for cultural activities, exchanges of ideas, lectures and special workshops.
Ilmars Zvirgzds „Little hare in the highest degree: The exhibition of the paintings of Irena Aizen at the Museum of Naive Art"
As it can be guessed from many known and unknown events, in which the image of a hare is involved, it was not a coincidence, and I went to see the hare.
... Irena Aizen who has received classical art education, has created artworks in the framework of traditional painting for a long time, and has comparatively recently turned to the genre of naive art. This turn was a conscious step that the artist herself has explained in her lectures and interviews, but can be seen the best in her works.
Almost 20 artworks placed in one of the rooms of the Museum of Naive Art, surprise the viewer with the homogeneity of their colour, background and message. The dates of the paintings demonstrate that they have been created in the last three years. It seems unnecessary for me to evaluate the technique of the artworks, especially their material aspects, but they are all impeccable from the viewer’s point of view. In the framework of the naive art, disregarding how disputable this term is, the main thing is the idea and the message of the artist. In the case of the exhibition of Irena Aizen, the main hero is a little hare.
Looking for the explanation of the image of hare for a longer time in different mythological traditions, I can claim that the hare of Irena Aizen is close to the concentrate of mythical saturation. The hare who is the symbol of both wisdom and foolishness, the ideal of both fertility and chastity, the bearer of both richness and poverty, most often reveals itself as a dexterous personage who begins processes, unite the split into a whole, gives power and new beginning. Even if nobody is able to confirm or deny the influence of a concrete mythical hare in the works of Irena Aizen, the fact that gods have the ears of a hare from the Far East to the traditions of the North American Indians, is sufficient for the viewer to understand that these traditions have influenced the artist. It is even not so important which traditions these are, because the priority of painting is a visual insight, and careful viewer will notice the independence of the image of hare. The hares in the paintings are similar enough to give the clear signal that in fact, the little hare is one, the only, the universal one. The hare in the highest degree.
In the Jewish tradition and language the concept of hare is connected with cunning. Linguistically, shfanim of Ivrit is clearly related to cunning, therefore, seeing the artworks of Irena Aizen and knowing that she is an Israeli artist, one is surprised because the naive (not in the sense of genre, but in the literal sense) rosy white image of the hare with wide-open eyes contrasts sharply with seemingly well-known linguistic stereotype. This is not a “fake hare” that is on the table and of which everyone is sure that it is not real. This is a little hare, I want to say – hare in the skin of lamb who enslaves the viewers and imposes its thoughts on them.
Dominance, friendship, submission, interdependence and the other forms of links and linkages – they are visually shown as different sorts of ties – is only the background of the hare of cosmic scale who fills and maintains everything. Yes, the hare can also be a baby, and in this sense the solution of Irena Aizen has been borrowed from the sacred art – there is no baby hare, because the hare is small only in terms of size, otherwise it is the same adult universal hare.
Another confusing question that perhaps derives from the grammar of the Latvian language, but not from only that, is the gender of hare. Looking at different pictures of hare and reflecting on the mythological functions of hare – for example, a West African myth that the hare had the task to bring people immortality, but it mixed up everything and instead of immortality brought death – the personage of hare associates with a masculine element. The imagination, quick wit, fecundity and agility seem to undoubtedly be masculine symbols. However, the hares of Irena Aizen are all in dresses, if not to count monsters. And even if girls are often called “hares” in the street (why?), it is enough to look into the faces of hares, but moreover into their eyes, to understand that the belonging to a concrete sex or gender is a construction of mind created by laziness. Hare is an androgynous creation who possesses the best and the worst features of both genders. In the painting “Name’s day”, the hare as a white angel flies over a table, here and there, and eternally.
Magazine „Rigas Laiks”, June 2011
"I use images of animals to tell about people,
furthermore, certainly about relations between a man and a woman.
After all, we are all a bit animals...
Pyramids, that I create, have a philosophical and spiritual concept that reflects a balance of opposing forces in human life.
Each element of a pyramid is a symbol and has an implicit meaning.
- The bird symbolizes spirituality.
- The key is the answer to the questions.
The human desire for harmonious development is emphasized in the paintings. All elements of a pyramid are interconnected.
However, each viewer can find their own correlation of these elements."
Galoshes on, by winter marshes,
My hat and glasses looking nice,
I strolled, when something swept just past me
Gliding with hooks the river ice.
Like wind I hurried to the river,
The creature to the woods sped on,
He put two wooden planks like slippers
Then squatted, jumped and off was gone.
I took my glasses off in awe,
And long stood by the river bank
And wondered on the oddest show-
The funny creature's hook and plank!
"What was it?" by Daniel Harms
The unreal world of Irena Aizen
Irena Aizen, who possesses a philosophical mind and a satirical outlook on life, paints philosophical and satirical pictures. Or perhaps, vice versa – satirical and philosophical ones. The trademarks of the artist's style is a psychological approach, fine analyses of human relationship and an impeccable sense of humor.
Artistic activity requires preparation not less thorough than the one for a parachute jump. A few years ago Irena found her image, her own original artistic style, stepping over that "threshold of professionalism", which separates the necessary period of preparation for creation- both technical and personal-from the creation process proper. Not long ago the artist, who had acquired a thorough art education ( Irena is a graduate from The Yaroslavl college of art, founded by her grandfather Serguey Arsenyevich Matveyev), would paint in a traditional realistic manner.
Later she came to a conclusion that what attracted her was something completely different- that trend which is called "children's game of grown up people"- the naive art.
Many outstanding artists such as Marc Shagal, Kazimir Malevich, Henri Roussot were attracted to this form of art - surprisingly emotional and bright, naive and wise at the same time.
Naive artists create intuitively, but their art is professional, serious and profound. The issue here is not so much the special education they might or might not possess, but in the childish innocence of the world perception which, together with a natural talent, bears wonderful fruit. Only the artist who kept intact his childish innocence is capable of producing naive art – the art which appeals to a child, hidden inside every adult. Very few grown ups can approach that hidden child, pat him on his head, look into his eyes, put him on his knees and tell him everything he himself longed to hear from the grown ups when he was five years old.
The child is a realist by nature: he likes the image to be precise and clear, no piling up of details and no omissions. For him the classical perspective and treatment of light and shade are out of the question.
What is welcomed though is the expressiveness. Psychological states and qualities are transformed by the child into external deformity. For example, the idea of goodness, from time immemorial, was personified by those big-headed, awkward, cut out and glued on little paper men. Only the invented image possesses the utmost expressiveness, the essence of the specific human quality. In this respect, the biggest success for an artist is to find his own precise image.
The storage of emotional memory is daily enriched by impressions, emotions and feelings. The artist draws them from both the reality and imaginary life: reminiscences, books, works of art. Fancy and whimsical play of creative fantasy establishes deeply-routed connections between the different phenomena and processes, which at first sight seem unrelated. The "images look for" each other, disappear, reappear, act, and get transformed.
In the Galilee there is Lake Kineret, mentioned in the Gospels as the Galilean Sea. It is there that St. Peter fished, there the fishermen heard the first preaching of Christ and it is on the waters of the lake Christ walked "upon waves".
The legendary sea-lake, surrounded by rocks, became the permanent scenery,
the background for Irene's pictures. It is after having seen the birds on the mosaic floors at Capernaum, near Tiberias, that Irena Aizen was strongly emotionally moved: the expressive silhouette drawing of the stone birds inspired the artist to create a big cycle of paintings. But not the birds became the main subject of her paintings. Irene seems to preserve in her genetic memory the old order: everything is in its own time. And of course the Word was at the beginning of it all…
When we want to show affection to a child or to a dear person, we might involuntarily call him or her "kitten" or "rabbit". "Rabbit" can be a little girl or a big man: rabbit or hare is a controversial creature. It is a symbol of procreation, continuation of the line, and it is also a spiritual creature. The Chinese considered The Hare to be an eternal animal, condemned to live on the Moon under cinnamon tree and pound in the mortar the Devine potion of immortality (The Immortal Powder). Karl Yung calls the Hare "the helpmate animal", pointing out to the "not awaken one" the way to the Temple, and to "not enlightened one" – the way to revealing a mystery. The Hare is many sided, fickle and deceptive.
All in all the hare has many faces as the man himself.
Here come the hares…
Each artist communicates with his viewers in his own way, that is why one should cherish one's individuality. Following her inner "compass" the artist uses an intricate complex of thoughts, feelings and associations to create a particularly expressive and charismatic image of self-sufficient, persistent and both funny and serious creature. The hares with their red-faced mugs and huge, pure eyes, are dressed in children's dresses, trousers and caps. Irene didn't simply "dress up" her heroes in order to show that they act and feel like humans,- they are dressed as if for a ball: artfully painted lace, bows on the sleeves, a little rose under the ear, manicured fingers and…such a lovely and well-known detail- undone laces ready to be treaded on at any time.
The birds – the favorites from the previous creative period of Irene's – are not forgotten either: they push the hare on the swings ("Imagined Ocean"), a hare is tenderly hugging a duck ("Amoroso"). The picture called "Spring" shows a tree branch growing from the hare's head, full of flowers and exotic birds; and in his paws he holds a nest full of eggs. For centuries Europe holds a belief that on Easter the hare lays multi-colored eggs.
Under a playful look of its creator-artist, the fantastic world, in beautiful seaside decorations, piles up fictions which don't fail to surprise.
Concentrated and serious, spontaneous and comic hares dress up, play, dance, make friends with rock rabbits, lovingly hug cats, and catch the mermaids using the pearls as a bait. All these actions take form of fairy-like solemn ceremonies; the time here is transformed into an infinite circle where the coming tomorrow will be as bright as yesterday.
Irena subtly controls the emotions of her heroes. The artist, being a gifted tale-teller, profoundly understands the psychology of both a child and a grown-up, finds a precise relationship between the inner, spiritual human life and visual, obvious expression of this life. The artist has a sharp eye for amusing, expressive gestures and characteristic mimics. Only very rarely (to tell you the secret: only when a hare fools around) on his frowned face appears a charmingly clumsy smile-grin, revealing two rows of rare ground off "milk" teeth. When the hare is happy, not only the viewer should have no doubts about his state of mind, but this happiness should be transferred to the viewer too.
The creature who smiles the most in the paintings is the mermaid: mermaid is a hare too, but a small one and with a fish tail. The mermaid smiles under any circumstances, showing all her teeth at once: from under the ice, seeing the bait – pearl ("Seasons. Winter"); even when caught and tied to the rope
(" Stay with me") or being put in a glass ("Only you").
The artist prefers the art to be somewhat simplified, light, without overloading it. The form is easy to understand, the colors are few and pure. The drawing is clear, accurate and accomplished, without any dryness, always expressive and entertaining. But the laconic form does not exclude the details – the ones which are appropriate and amusing. The abundance of playful comical details reinforces the theme, as they actively cooperate with each other. In one picture we see still evening trees, cut "in hare-like style", whereas the gardener himself is modestly displayed with a cutter in his hands ("Summer. July"). Another picture shows a flock of unicorns flying to the warm countries ("Autumn"), and yet another – a hare with wings and nimbus, dressed up like an angel, breaking the toys and tearing the branches off the trees.
Notwithstanding a great deal of fantasy and invention, Irena's heroes are the "real ones", with no tricks. Her inventions are very deeply rooted in reality: all the objects even though slightly toy-like, all the same are textural and material. After all, what feeds the fantasy is life itself.
What the artist possesses in abundance is imagination, love of life, kindness
and sense of humor. The works of Irena Aizen give the viewer what each of us lacks so much: warmth of heart, stability, constancy.
As we grow up we learn and accept the "rules of the game" of the adult life, forgetting this magic, subconscious childish feeling, telling us that everything will have a happy end. So let us feed on the positive energy from the images created by the artist's fantasy, and then everything we are used to- will turn into something unusual and all the indifferent – into something thrilling.
PhD in art history
A.S.Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow
The original article in Russian may be found in the site: rusiskusstvo
the section Наши художники