For is solo show at Sommer Contemporary Art, Yitzhak Livneh will turn the gallery’s project room into a showroom, filled with items. Paintings, identical in their square formats and size, all made in the last two years, cover the walls and compete over the viewer attention, as if they were shiny merchandise. Some are made with spray, some with oil colours, on white Formica panels. Using graining techniques and special silicon tools, Livneh paints, or better yet creates, wooden textures (‘faux bois’), and flickering cum-digital patterns. Decorative techniques are used here for abstract painting. The colours are bright and shiny, and together the works look like a catalogue of textures and patterns.
In some of the paintings, short two to three words sentences appear, all in an identical font. Here, the paintings become posters or signs, while the patterns function as backgrounds. The sentences are taken from different fields, some are property selling pitches: ‘a-m-a-z-i-n-g one bedroom apartment’, ‘small quiet street’; some are taken from the practice of small businesses and dubious loans: ‘buy today pay tomorrow’, ‘loan for any purpose’, some are Jewish religious slogans: ‘long live the Messiah King’, ‘in god we trust’; and some are seductive lines from the sex industry: ‘waiting for you’, ‘rooms by the hour’. They all crawl from the tel-avivian street into the white clean gallery, promising and tempting slogans that can be found on stickers, signs, adds and commercials, combined together into a condensed attack on the viewer.
Like these sentences, some dubious, false or even malicious, and hiding double meanings, the formalistic aspect of the works also offers different kinds of illusions, concealments and [honest] disclosures. From within this reflexive painterly abstraction, the concrete filters through. The sentences are taken from the local street and social structure, and together, they imply a certain feeling of urgency or emergency, and are charges with political implications.
Itzhak Livneh, born in 1952, lives and works in Tel Aviv. Currently teaches at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem and former Head of Bezalel Fine Art Programme, and teacher at Hamidrasha, Beit Berl College. He exhibited solo shows and participated in group exhibitions in Israeli and international museums and galleries such as The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Haifa Museum of Art, Haifa, CCA, Tel Aviv and Mercer Gallery, New York. He is a recipient of the Minister of Culture and Sport Prize, 2005, Eva and Mendel Pundik Prize for Israeli Art, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, 2002, Tel Aviv Museum of Art Prize, 1997, America-Israel Cultural Foundation,1995 and Hermann Struck Bezalel Prize, 1976. He completed an MA in Hunter College, New York and Berger Art Conservation Inc., New York; and a BFA at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem.