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Shimrit Yariv / Terrible Beauty

Daniella Talmor

The title of Shimrit Yariv's exhibition, "Terrible Beauty," alludes to her influence by the famous artist Francis Bacon, to whom a memorial exhibition by that name took place in Dublin in 2009 and presented over 100 unfinished works and slashed canvases taken from his studio. In his works, Bacon used to distort and corrupt the human image. Similarly, Yariv presents distorted beauty. Her paintings outline portraits of young, seductive women, which seemingly represent an ideal of beauty, but their faces are torn and convey a veiled and formidable gaze, that occasionally refuses to evoke sympathy. These women's beauty does not induce serenity and calm, but disturbs. Her portraits are significantly deformed under her brush that seems to attack the canvas with intensive violence towards the figure as well as towards the painting itself. Her work process combines construction and destruction that feed each other: on the one hand she creates a figure, and on the other hand she erases it while attacking the canvas with a palette knife or additional paint layers, thus creating duality of bluntness and mystery.

Nevertheless, despite the distortion, Yariv's painting is a work of art, and the craft of making art is about producing beauty. Indeed, out of the disharmony on the canvas evolves a new harmony, a combination of beauty and ugliness that produces a new kind of aesthetics. The agony that is seen on the faces of the figures and the expressive boldness of Yariv's art-making stimulate fascination and expose the viewer to a more complex aesthetics.

The expressive portraits of the young women, sexual and blue-eyed, seem at times as self-portraits of the artist. In her words, none of these were initially intended to be such, but in the creation process of the portraits, some elements which resemble the artist were gathered. "A narcissist element exists in all Art," she explains, "and each and every portrait is, in a sense, a self-portrait".

Yariv's works produce lively beauty. They strike the viewer and in parallel aspire to evoke aesthetic enjoyment, like good music that can be strident and pleasurable at the same time. Her painting is violent as well as soft, hazy and mysterious, loud but also quiet, beautiful and ugly, overt and masked. The open eyes of the figures are also the artist's wide-open eyes.

Daniella Talmor, curator

August 2012

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