Rakefet Viner Omer: Bell Jar

Photographer: Oscar Abosh

Rakefet Viner Omer

Bell Jar

March 7 – April 4, 2013

                                                                                                                         

“I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.

Whatever I see I swallow immediately,

Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.

I am not cruel, only truthful,

The eye of a little god, four-cornered.

Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall,

It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long

I think it is part of my heart. But it flickers.

Faces and darkness separate us over and over.”

(From “Mirror,” by Sylvia Plath)

 

Rakefet Viner Omer’s artworks include portraits immersed in layered, fleshy, colored surfaces. These outer surfaces relate to swallowing, to the demarcation of the border between outside and inside, a border that constitutes a partition that defends against outside stimuli, communication and exchange with the environs, libidinal recharging, leaving traces and self destruction. The metaphor of the “fleshy” canvas suggests emotional images.  It evokes simultaneously the sense of touch, as well as active motion that creates contact between the subject and a part of himself, and to the same extent between himself the Other.  Furthermore, the graphic metaphor of these facial surfaces, that constitute most of the painting’s inner surfaces, requires active participation, sweeping the Other along on its journey. Viner Omer’s arrangement has a dual attitude. “Recording the Soul” is done completely seriously, sincerely, with expressive gestures, yet at the same time with the exaggeration and humor that reveal a sarcastic attitude.

The visual stimulus comes in contact with the unconscious representations.  The portraiture and outer surface of the canvas are the inner surface – drawing of the soul.  The visual stimulus, product of a glance, is “non corporeal” (Andre Green).  It connects visual perception with representation.  The effect of this visual stimulus on the unconscious is what creates meaning.

Viner Omer’s artworks unravel the transitional process between image and word, from unconscious thought (visual image) to conscious thought (the word).  She erects a tactile barrier, permitting connection and separation of the internal and external, the conscious and the unconscious.  Her works mix and blend the layers, as the threat of unraveling the difference between the internal and external – bursts out of every painting. Once this barrier is broken, the outer surface of the canvas appears sealed, since there is no way to project meaning onto it, and its meanings return like a mirror to the observer. It thus becomes threatening.  “Frequently and easily something may appear to us as threatened, when the border between fantasy and reality is blurred.” (Freud).

The artworks of Viner Omer excel in describing the inner range of feelings and sensitivities in the frequent transitions between the Inner and the Outer, that are involved in her artistic practice. The gap between contemplation of the surrounding home and cultural world, and the terror and distortion in the nature of bad painting in which they are drawn refer to a bubble-like, fragile bell jar that guards a supposedly easy, gentle existence which enables leisure, contemplation and borrowed, limited, luxurious living. This picturesque existence “swallows” large shards of reality. In her book “The Bell Jar”, author and poet Sylvia Plath describes it thus:  “For the person who is beneath the bell jar [….] the world itself is a bad dream.”  This is a jar that can be broken at any time, to expose those portrayed and the artist to the terror of an unprotected, threatening, brutal existence of that reality. The screen of the bell jar, that same opaque screen, outside of which the world is experienced as a bad dream, is forever lying in wait. Viner Omer’s way of making the threat present is what enables it to be swallowed, together with the images in the drawing that look back at the observer.  Through this gaze, the external and internal reality, are reflected together like a bubble within a bubble.

Yham Hameiri, March 2013