Hava Raucher's Solo Exhibition, “Arsuf” Gallery - by Hagai Argov
The artistic corpus of Hava Raucher, an accomplished artist residing in Rechovot, can be divided into three periods. At the end of the 1970’s, under the influence of American Photorealism, Raucher used an airbrush to paint figures seated in an easy-chair. The figure’s immobility becomes fragmented in the 1980’s. The figures are depicted as paper cutouts, or as primitive drawings on square-ruled paper. The man of the late 70’s, seated on the chair, conveyed a sense of order and control, whereas the host of figures of these years convey a sense of complete anarchy.
Lately Raucher has reverted to Realism, though this time she looks at nude models. The heroines of her current paintings are new immigrants from Russia, whose condition reminds her of Israel in the 1950’s.
Raucher was born in 1944 in Bulgaria, studied art in Tel Aviv, lived for six years in the United States where she taught art and exhibited her works in the U.S. and in Europe. The present show presents works from the years 1980-1986. Raucher’s works are concerned with the theme of the self-portrait, but these are not depictions of the artist’s head looking directly at the viewer. The artist was helped by friends and neighbors who drew her as their eyes saw and their hands sketched. The series of amateur drawings is accompanied by lines of a text reminiscent of a dream or a sequence of memories. All these elements are arranged on the canvas as if they were projected or photocopied on stationery. The result is a fragmented portrait made up of automatic writing, groups of drawings and silhouette depictions in profile.
Raucher’s art has to do with space and time: for her, space is an aspect of existence entailing constant investigation. The figure seated in an easy chair is not shown in a realistic setting (interior of a room, the beach, a yard) despite its very realistic form of depiction. The details of the 1980’s portraits involve a technique of childlike flattening of the figure, suggesting a sort of collage. The new immigrants are not painted against a studio setting, but rather set in an allegorical landscape borrowed from another place.
Neither is Raucher’s time static, one-dimensional and/or rational; the seated man gives no indication to the viewer as to the moment he sat down and certainly not as to the moment he might get up. The temporal aspect of the self-portrait includes the collection of the volunteers’ drawings, their arrangement in the space of the work and the inscription of the dream text. The background of the new immigrant portraits depicts the Israeli landscape of the 1950’s, although the portraits were painted in the 1990’s, during the last several years.
The recent exhibit of English painting shown at the Israel Museum and the renewed discussion of figurative painting in Israeli art make it especially difficult to define Raucher’s works; since she borrows from Renaissance artists (Pierro Della Francesca) the composition, from Picasso the primitive humor, and from Matisse the idea of flat additions to the canvas. The central theme of Raucher’s work is the positioning and pictorial treatment of the figure – seated, in a realistic setting, as a fragmented collage or set against a foreign landscape. The group of paintings shown in this exhibition constitutes, therefore, an important link in her artistic development.