Photographer: Ami Erlich
April 18 – May 30, 2013
The oil color landscape paintings by Ami Faytchevitz are the fruits of contemplation and residence in the scenery of the Golan Heights. Today’s choice to present the beautiful Golan Heights area, replete with contention and battles, is a complex and daring selection that combines both attention to the tradition of Israeli landscape painting, and sensory-psychological-emotional observation.
Like other Israeli artists before him, several of the “New Horizons” group in the 1950’s, as well as Michael Gross and Ori Reisman in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, Faytchevitz finds landscape painting as a way to build “a reaction to life” (as Gross puts it) and to create a bond with the place, as leads in building his identity as an Israeli artist.
Notable in these paintings is the tension flowing from actual attention to the modernistic language of superficiality on the one hand, and to that of the personal and biographic on the other hand. “These painters (Gross, Reisman) formulated an Israeli language associated with being Israeli and with localism, together with use of modernistic expression. An interesting tension has been created between opposites, which is expressed through placing of color and the rainbow of colors. With Reisman, this is a sensitive placement that reacts to what he sees, a language with Western influences that receives a local genealogy,” says Faytchevitz. In Gross’ paintings there is also a restraint and condensing of color alongside an emotional perception that expresses a personal and biographically experiential aspect. For Gross and Reisman, the artist’s work is perceived as an emotionally direct and immediate expression, through which they can articulate memory of a special moment, which also contains a strong tie to the reality surrounding them. Thus, the personal and localized expression in their artwork is also general, universal and contemporary. These aspects are echoed in the Faytchevitz’s landscapes.
Faytchevitz’s initial acquaintance with the Golan Heights landscape came during his army service as a combat soldier. He is familiar with the country from treks during which the expressions used were objectives, targets and conquests. Years later, Faytchevitz began to tour these landscapes in the wake of his recollections. “During my travels I encountered the yeshiva students who would jump in and enjoy themselves by one of the Syrian pools on the Golan Heights; these were the young religious conscripts who seek belonging with the land, and that is where they find it, partly due to the fact that the pool belonged to the Syrians. This fact somewhat strengthened their delight,” he says. That is how he came to know the ‘otherness’ of the Golan Heights as a heterotrophic place in which there is simultaneously contradictory logic, layers of history, a place that is a defined border area that has changed hands, that serves as a sort of reverse mirror for the entire Israeli society. He finds himself trying to formulate this experience in color and substance. “I try to forgo any sort of ‘position’, because when you represent political or historical relations clearly, you relinquish all other points of view.”
Faytchevitz, who has examined those attempts in Israeli painting in which presentation of the landscape has also fashioned the building of an Israeli identity, was impressed by the works of Anna Ticho, from her focus on the olive tree, rocks and prickly flora of the arid Judean Mountains as a way to connect with the local sights and landscapes. These motifs also appeared with Leopold Krakauer, even becoming for him an autoportrait. With both of these artists, the precise observation turned the landscapes into an inner experience, so that over the years they could draw them from memory. Faytchevitz operates from the outset from memory and from an understanding that a single, hermetic identity will never be constructed. By contrast with the thorns and the olive tree, in his drawings the eucalyptus tree pops up, which ‘throws’ the observer into the heterotrophic essence of the Golan: the same eucalyptus tree planted by the Syrian army – at the recommendation of the spy, Eli Cohen, as it were for the sake of camouflage – was actually planted to make it easier for the Israeli army to identify Syrian army bases. And in any case, it is absorbed and assimilated into the local scenery.
” I attempt to clarify for myself how it is possible to return to this moment, and to reexamine therein nuances of identity”, he says. Faytchevitz proceeds carefully with his brush and palette knife, between the signs that ‘throw’ him outwards: a mine field, military area, an abandoned house riddled with bullets. These disturb him, like secret agents, in creating direct bonds with nature, with the landscape. He ‘documents’ these disturbances by using the language of drawing: reduction and superficiality along with detailing of rich surfaces, where the relation between them emphasizes the artificiality. Thus, a dissonance is created which undermines the unity of the view. IDF bridges become geometric shapes that interrupt the harmony. In his artworks the process or struggle is depicted, as his brush’s tracks that insist on creating a unique, sensual path.
His painting re-creates and re-expresses the characteristics of place in a way that encapsulates the complexity and the varied, multiple layers that are bound up — like a stone no one wants – in the Golan Heights. In this way, Faytchevitz’s painting succeeds in clearing its own path through that thicket.
Yham HaMeiri, April 2013
Ami Faytchevitz: Born in Israel (1971), lives and works in Tel Aviv. BFA in Fine Arts, Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design (2000). Exhibited in various solo and group exhibitions in museums and galleries, including the Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art, Herzliya; The Haifa Museum of Art, Haifa. Prizes that he won include: The Isracard and Tel Aviv Museum of Art Prize (2007), and the Encourage Creativity of Ministry of Culture and Sports (2012). He is included in public and private collections such as The Israel Museum, Jerusalem; The Tel Aviv Museum, Tel Aviv; and the Beno Kalev collection, Tel Aviv.