Journey to the Fringes - By Hava Raucher

The catalogue is a travelogue. A journey to the fringes, The fringes of the body and the fringes of the mind. The body that bears the marks of time and the mind that wanders into the realms of doubt. A journey to the people who walk along the roads, migrating from one country to another, and to the uprooted and displaced, roaming nowhere.

A Journey of Six Chapters.

Chapter One

Portrait of the artist, without a physical figure, realistic, true to life. His face as reflected in the eyes of others. 1979-1984 acrylic, colored pencil, charcoal and oil on canvas.

The works were exhibited in the MFA thesis exhibition at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, USA.  The university is ranked 30th in the world by the Academic Ranking of World Universities.  The Art Department is outstanding. The teachers are leading artists and the atmosphere is very conceptual.

The works attempt to create a conflict between illusory painting that strives for perfection and misleads the eye, and authentic primitive painting done directly on canvas by people who are not skilled painters. They were asked to draw me, so as to create a collage, walking a fine line between the refined and learned, and the non-skilled, with references to the history of art emerging from this lack of knowledge.


Chapter Two

Testimony

Larger than life nudes. 1990-1994 oil on canvas.

October 1994, a painting installation of nine huge works. Nine female figures, new immigrants from the CIS, drawn from observation, in real time, during the mass wave of immigration in 1990.  Professor Gregory Ostrovsky, art critic for the Russian-language newspaper Vesti, wrote a highly favorable review of the exhibition. Vesti refused to publish it. Instead, it published a very large feature article in its culture supplement, with the nude women’s eyes covered with a black stripe.

Professor Gregory Ostrovsky wrote:
“Anyone who visits Hava Raucher’s exhibition for some ‘pleasant excitement’ may be disappointed. The modern art lover will not be greeted by landscapes, still lifes, abstracts or installations, but rather by nudes who hold you tight and won’t let go.

Why do these anonymous women occupy your thoughts, feelings and imagination, steal your rest and disturb your slumber?

The title of the exhibition, Testimony, hints at the oath recited in court – ‘the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.’

An artistic document that is, first and foremost, human testimony. Accuracy and reliability like those of a protocol, which ostensibly do not go with the freedom of creative imagination. Such documentary prose requires absolute dedication from the artist, along with a high level of professionalism and the full cooperation of the observer.

At first glance, everything looks very simple: nine portraits of women, larger than natural. Nine life-size frontal nudes standing in the same position, with their feet together and their arms at their sides. With no other accessories.

Eight of the nine portraits have a neutral monochromatic background without a hint of landscape, interior or linear perspective. Only one figure stands in the center of the exhibition, painted against a background of the Israeli landscape. A nude man on bare earth, ‘for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.’

Mature women and even old women, whose bodies have lost their suppleness, grace and youthful charm. The work of art does not deliberately stress, but also does not conceal, the signs of aging, wrinkles, loose skin, misshapen hands and feet, sagging breasts and belly. The works are completely devoid of eroticism, the paintings are about something else. This is testimony. The captions under the pictures say: Natasha in the Land of Israel; Dina in the Land of Israel; Ida; Liza. Not Natasha from Moscow, not Liza from Kishinev, but in the Land of Israel. And this is very important to the artist, the models and us.

The works present a collective image of the wave of Russian immigration of the 1990s, of those who embarked on the long hard road in order to immigrate to the Promised Land. Some of them perceive Aliyah (immigration to Israel) as the fulfillment of Zionism and a blessing for the Land of Israel, while others perceive it as an unbearably heavy burden.

Aliyah is an integral part of our reality and its history, so the image of the Aliyah must be realistic, reliable and unadorned, just like Hava Raucher’s portraits.

Raucher spent three years painting the pictures. Each portrait is the result of hours of work. The artist worked thoroughly and seriously, amid focused and meticulous observation of the models whose bodies and faces tell their stories, just like the words in a book. A book about an entire generation that went through the Holocaust and found refuge in its own land after many trials and tribulations. Not only do the paintings tell the story of the entire generation – they also tell the story of those few people whose lives were fraught with suffering and loss.

Hava observes them with an objective gaze that is seemingly dispassionate, sober and uninvolved. But it is precisely through this observation that she achieves a highly emotionally charged connection and identifies her own self within her models.

The artist, who came to Israel from Bulgaria at a very early age, has much in common with these women. Their fate is similar to the fate of her mother, who experienced the events of the Holocaust in full. Despite the differences between the waves of immigration, they are essentially identical – like refugees, ‘We are all more en route than at home.’

Testimony is a very personal and even intimate autobiography. The urge must be powerful enough to drive an Israeli artist [who is not a new immigrant] to create an exhibition devoted to a subject that is not popular.” [1]

This is the response of the editor of Vesti’s culture supplement to the article published in the Israeli art magazine Four on Five in November 1994:

“A charged exhibition of this type, painted in a hyper-realistic style par excellence, requires preliminary investigative work, because of the way the women were presented – new immigrants from Russia, mothers and grandmothers – in a concept that displays their plight and misery for all to see. It raises the problem of the image which, in her opinion, is harmful to the women themselves, their families and the entire Russian community.”

Nudity of a mature woman was and is perceived as an insult. After this exhibition, I stopped painting fully nude women and switched to partial nudity.

I painted the “immigrants” out of empathy and complete identification with their situation as migrant refugees. I saw them as a quasi self-portrait.

Their situation was described very well by Professor Avishai Eyal:

“Some of Hava Raucher’s paintings are also fitted with a pair of wings on either side of the canvas, like the shutters of an icon. These wings,’ triangular at the top, recall the shape of a house, although since they are affixed lower than the upper edge of the canvas they serve to elevate it. The figures of the women are painted with their feet below the frame, their toes cut off, so that their ‘elevation’ detaches them from the ground. This hovering above the ground echoes the general dissociation of the figures from their backgrounds and emphasizes the sense of foreignness. These women have left one culture, never arriving in another. They are cut off from any context and not only are they unclothed, there is also no material object in their vicinity that might attest to their personality or their past. In this sense these are women that do not belong to any place or any time, they are lost in empty space, in a hostile environment and all they have left is their tormented body and their memories. It takes only a small step to see these paintings as secular Jewish icons, free of any religious mystery, presenting these women in a sort of eternal selection line before the eyes of an invisible officer who will seal their fate. The attributes of these figures as women, aged, Jewish, exiled and foreign categorically define their status and their future.

Hava Raucher strove to depict her memories and the figure of her mother through realistic portraits of new immigrants from Russia. In the process, perhaps unwillingly, she found herself creating a monumental icon of the figure of the female-saint, the eternal victim of historical upheavals and the claws of time."[2]

Chapter Three

Sons

 

The adolescent Nachshon wants to be a war hero. Oil on canvas 1994-1997.

The Sacrifice,  oil on canvas, 1997

A series of three paintings of Nachshon that I painted from observation over a period of 18 months in real time, when he was fifteen, fifteen-and-a-half and sixteen. I appear in the corner of the painting, observing the boy like a mother raising her son.

Sacrifice, the painting that shows Nachshon lying down in the uniform of a soldier, is studied in the database of CET, the Center for Educational Technology.  

“Amid diverse points of view on the binding of Isaac, as reflected in Israeli art from the 1980s onwards, there still appears the national viewpoint that perceives the young soldier as Isaac, and hence he is a sacrifice on the altar of the national Zionist ideal. This attitude is reflected in the work of Hava Raucher, displayed at the 'Summer/Katif' exhibition in July 2005. The painting shows a young soldier lying on a sort of bed which is actually a stone bunk. There are thin blue cushions at the soldier’s head and under his feet. The soldier is wearing an undershirt, army fatigue pants and combat boots, his eyes are open and staring at the viewer, his face is alert and his hands are resting. Above him there is a narrow rectangle, which looks like a picture within a picture, located in the center of the upper part of the painting. Within the rectangle, part of a room is visible, from which the head of an elderly woman with a short haircut is also looking at the viewer. The woman’s face is grim and the part of the room that she occupies is bare and unadorned, in shades of gray and purple.

The name of painting is Sacrifice. The style is realistic, a portrait of soldier who is ready, [with shoes on his feet] whose gun we do not see the. The separation between the two scenes, on the one hand, and their integration in the same painting on the other – directly connect the viewer to Israel in 2005, to the Biblical text and to the national Zionist myth of the sacrifice of Isaac. One possible interpretation is that the soldier lying there is Isaac, who is prepared to be sacrificed of his own free will and out of a belief in the righteousness of the act. The woman in the upper part of the painting is the soldier’s mother who, in Israeli reality, sacrifices her son and is suffering. She is the image of women in Jewish tradition who sacrificed their sons and suffered, like Isaac’s mother Sarah, whose suffering is described in Jewish texts, and Hannah from the story of Hannah and her seven sons. The sacrificing mother appears in art in the form of Mary, mother of Jesus, in Pieta scenes, the suffering women in Picasso’s Guernica, the women in Kadishman’s Sacrifice works and more. The mother and her soldier son in Hava Raucher’s work express a grim and fatal collaboration in a contemporary sacrifice. The narrow format in which the figures are positioned creates a sense of solitary confinement, a quasi jail from which there is no escape.” [3]

I exhibited at the "Summer/Katif" exhibition in July 2005, a month before the actual evacuation of the people who lived there. Not because I objected to the disengagement, [at the time I supported the disengagement, in the hope that it would bring peace], but because I saw displacement and suffering. Suffering of displaced persons, and suffering cannot be measured in terms of justified or unjustified. Just as murder is murder, and there is no justification for murder in the name of one national narrative or another. The late Zippora Luria, curator of the exhibition, an amazing woman, called on leftwing and rightwing artists to come and exhibit as a show of empathy for the suffering of the displaced. Few leftwing artists assented, for fear of being branded as “radical” rightwing artists.

Chapter Four

Temptation

Older women and one young woman, scantily clad. 1996-2004, oil on canvas.

Life-size figures, drawn from observation. I appear in the corner of the painting, reflected in the mirror, observing the painted figures, as if they were on the stage of a theater. The painting is deceptive, indefinable, full of dualities, shadows, reflections and mirror images.

Scantily clad older female figures in seductive positions. They can be seen as a feminist statement, giving rise to a discourse about ideal body image stereotypes, about the ritual that was created around these figures and about the inability to cope with the appearance of the aging body.

 In 2005, I set up Calendar Girls and Poems of Sluts, a huge installation of digital prints, on the outer wall of the Tel Aviv Artists House.  My scantily clad images, a young anorexic woman and two elderly women, and Poems of Sluts, by poet Hava Pinhas Cohen.

Images of scantily clad older women are considered an insult. And although they were not nude, the Tel Aviv Municipality asked us to remove them from the wall because of “problematic content for the location.”  Following this request we sent an open letter to the mayor. 

“Dear Mr. Mayor,

We have been asked to remove from the outer wall of the Artists House on Alharizi Street a work of art combining plastic art and poetry: Calendar Girls by Hava Raucher and Poems of Sluts by Hava Pinchas Cohen, due to censorship on the part of the Municipal Sculpture Committee headed by Dan Eitan. The Committee’s reasons: ‘The Committee wishes to point out that despite the desire to avoid censorship, the Committee bears responsibility for the content of works in the public domain, since this is a small street in a residential area the work has been found to include content that is problematic for the location.’

The question is, what is that ‘content that is problematic for the location’? The Committee did not explain what content of the work it was referring to in using the term "content." Is it the plastic arts? Or the poetry?  Why didn’t the letter include a definition of the problematic content? Isn’t the very failure to define the content an indication that the members of the Committee, if they are artists, realize that they will find it difficult to define both the problem and the limit?

 The central feature of Alharizi Street in Tel Aviv is that it is a small street with a special building in the middle – the Artists House. This house is a place of vibrant and dynamic contemporary culture and is one of the factors that affect the quality of life on the street. 

The woman next door didn’t like Calendar Girls, pictures of an excessively thin young girl and older women in seductive positions flaunting the remains of their beauty.  These are not conventionally beautiful models, and therefore the works raise questions about presenting the female body and feminine beauty in a way that incorporates humor, criticism and cultural provocation. And they can be seen as a feminist statement that runs counter to other advertisements scattered throughout the city on billboards and buildings, including high-rise buildings overlooking the Ayalon Highway, where women display their bodies for purposes of advertising and consumerism. Is displaying body parts for commercial purposes not ‘content that is problematic for the location,’ while the body of a dressed woman, painted as an object of art, is ‘content that is problematic for the location’? Where and what is the boundary between the two?

Is it not the Committee’s job to explain to the complainant that this is content of artistic value?

Will the cultural agenda of Tel Aviv be determined by the taste of the woman next door, who is willing to restrain herself when faced with the sight Yael Bar Zohar’s or Sendi Bar’s breasts plastered on buildings in Tel Aviv for the purpose of selling brands?

Is it possible that the Committee censored the work on the wall of the Artists House for reasons of modesty? The figures are scantily clad, two in swimsuits and one in a gown revealing her shoulders, arms and legs. If the reason is modesty, then similarly clad women are walking around on your very own promenade, Mr. Mayor, and if a neighbor on Hayarkon Street complains about women who are neither young nor beautiful walking around with bare shoulders or exposed knees, will you close the beach?

Poems by Hava Pinchas Cohen, two of which have appeared in books published by Am Oved and Hakibbutz Ha’meuchad, as part of its Rhythm Series. Poems of Sluts will soon be published by Hakibbutz Ha’meuchad, as part of its Rhythm Series. The poems have been acclaimed by readers and the establishment. Has the fact that the poems moved from the book into the street altered their quality?

One of Hava Raucher’s works was displayed in the Museum of Hebrew Union College in New York, as part of a group exhibition, along with American artists such as George Segal, Kiki Smith and Art Spiegelman. This was a yearlong exhibition. We would like to remind you that the institution trains Conservative rabbis. None of the rabbis asked to have it removed.

Works by Hava Raucher are now hanging in Kedumim Square in Old Jaffa, opposite one of Christianity’s holiest churches, and to the best of our knowledge the priests and monks have no problem with them. It turns out that Conservative rabbis and Orthodox priests have no problem with older women and aging bodies, but the Tel Aviv Municipality does.

Poems of Sluts are local and social poetry, poems written on the shores of Jaffa (the author’s hometown). They were written out of respect and identification with woman’s place and out of pain for that selfsame place, i.e. giving without receiving anything in return.

Can you, Mr. Mayor, and the erudite Artistic Committee, tell us what complaint was made and what is the reason for removing the work that is seen by an audience of passersby? What are the boundaries that separate displaying a woman’s body for economic and commercial reasons and displaying a woman’s body as part of a work with artistic and social messages?” [4]

The works received a great deal of media coverage and survived on the wall for three months.

Chapter Five

Written in Amharic

Ethiopian women and girls. Oil on canvas, 2004-2010.

Blonde Ethiopian girls, girls in transit between East and West. I associated their beauty and noble

stature with ancient Egyptian sculptures of women. I painted them like sculptures, works of art, proud, free and independent.

Written in Amharic is an enormous triptych with Haya, an old Ethiopian woman, in the middle, flanked by her two daughters. I encountered Haya by chance.  Blinded by her blonde beauty and up to my ears in descriptions of fascinating young Ethiopian women, I started to paint Aviva. At the end of the summer she returned to her studies and I couldn’t find anyone else [they were all working and studying]. 

Aviva suggested that I paint her mother, Haya. I agreed. This was the start of a fascinating journey into Haya’s world.

We spent months sitting opposite each in the studio. Haya told me her story.  How she left her husband and immigrated to Israel on her own, late in her pregnancy and with a baby in her arms, in order to escape from the traditional oppression of women in Ethiopia.

Haya wrote her story in Amharic, directly on the canvas behind her painted image.

“My younger sister got married when she was seven years old. They came from a neighboring village and took her to her husband. My father did not want to give her away, she was young, and he wanted her to continue her studies. His sister, my aunt, said that it was not good for a woman to study too much, for if she would, she would become a prostitute. Let her get married, she will go to her husband and bring children into the world. My father listened to her. They carried her away on their back; she was little and could not walk long distances. She wept, did not want to leave. She used to run away and come back home. She made my brother and my aunt angry; they used to shout at her and beat her, Go back to your husband, they said. Her husband’s family promised my family not to touch her for three years. When she was ten years old she ran away, and came back home after being beaten and with a big bruise on her forehead, she did not want to sleep with her husband because she was so young. At the age of twelve she became pregnant, and things settled down. She stopped running away. She gave birth to a son, and later to twin girls. When they were six months old they died, one after the other. Then she gave birth to a son who died when he was four. My sister suffered a great deal and finally contracted heart disease. She was very sick and my mother and father would pray all the time that she should not die. She divorced her husband and came home. My mother and father were constantly remorseful. If she had continued her studies and had not gotten married when she was seven she would not have been so sick. At the age of 25 my little sister died." 

I was married by force and gave birth to another daughter. He was a very old man with children, a good and honorable man, he didn’t ask me to wash his feet and kiss them. In Ethiopia, a woman must respect the man, keep her eyes downcast, do what he says, not talk to anyone else, serve him and wash his feet when he comes home. Whenever someone entered the house and talked to me, he got angry. And it was hard. I wanted to immigrate to the Land of Israel.  My uncle came and said: act sensibly, he won’t let you go. Your father will immigrate to the Land of Israel and you will be left alone. Leave him, you’re four months pregnant, go with your father. I went to Addis Ababa with my father. I was in my ninth month, my father was supposed to immigrate to the Land of Israel, he gave up his place and waited for me to give birth. It was a difficult delivery. Thirteen days later he immigrated to the Land of Israel. I was left alone with a baby and a little girl. They wouldn’t let young people immigrate, only old people. I spent two hard years in Addis Ababa.  In 1991 they came and took us on the plane.”

At last I came to the Land of Israel, I kissed the ground, I prayed and I was glad, I didn’t bring a husband, thank God.”[5]

On October 11, 2007, I went out into the street again. I set up the installation Sacred Mothers, giant digital prints wrapping the outside of the Tel Aviv Artists House building. The work creates a kind of temple, a hall, a place of worship of the Jewish mother.

The installation consists of two figures, one a young religious mother and the other a mature Ethiopian woman beside her daughters.

Hodayah and her Eleven Children is the figure of a religious young woman staring distantly and disconnectedly at the eleven babies extended towards her on a large hand.  The babies in the painting are numbered. Outside the painting the numbers appear, with the names of the children alongside them: Matanya, Shmayah, Nehemiah, Moria, Bruriah, Batya, Bat-El, Gabriel, Gedaliah, Tehila and Yeshua. In Hebrew, all these names contain the name of God. Ten human children and one missing angel.

The work asks questions about rigid social orders, the sanctity of motherhood, and the possibility or impossibility of a woman to choose. A society in which there are young women who marry at a very early age and give birth to one child after another as part the social norm or as a result of social pressure exerted on them. A society that conveys the message that a woman’s self-actualization is achieved through her children and that she is nothing but a tool for them.

Written in Amharic or Haya and her Daughters is a triptych with an Ethiopian woman in the middle, an Ethiopian mother flanked by two girls. A mother who, in terms of her traditional place in the triptych, is equivalent to the Holy Mother, standing against the backdrop of her personal biography, which she wrote in Amharic directly on the canvas.The story of how she got up and took action, late in her pregnancy and with a baby in her arms, left her husband and immigrated to Israel in order to escape from the traditional oppression of women. An unusual choice in light of the culture from which she comes. The choice of a proud life, free of oppression.

Chapter Six

 

Sculptures

The City Square. Aluminum statues paint with oil paint, 70-80 cm high.

In 2011, I set up the City Square, an installation of dozens of “smaller than life” [80 cm high] sculptures at the Artists House in Tel Aviv. Figures of dozens of men and a few women, fully nude.

The City Square

A conversation between Miriam Gamburd and Hava Raucher

Miriam – why the city square?

Hava -

The image that I thought about when I began making the statues was a tremendous crowd of figures, small people standing naked before their maker. Their nakedness is existential and, in my humble opinion, it is devoid of even the slightest hint of eroticism. As you know, hints of eroticism are in the eye of the beholder, and he may interpret it as he pleases.
The intention is to create a place of assembly, a city square, an open field, a stadium, an amphitheater – a place capable of containing a large number of people. In my imagination, I saw hundreds of people assembling, but in this exhibition I managed to set up only dozens (a challenge for the next exhibition).
The figures assemble in anticipation for something important that is about to happen, but it is not clear what.

Miriam -

The installation is somewhat reminiscent of Rodin’s The Burghers of Calais. Rodin’s figures do not stand on a high pedestal, as was customary up to that time; instead, they are positioned at the viewer’s eye level. His statues are larger than life, and this is characteristic of classical sculpture.
If you sculpt statues of normal height and place them in a vast city square, a place where there are people, the statues will appear smaller than their normal height, and that’s why they used to make them bigger. This is one of the rules that remained unbroken until George Segal, who created life-size body castings. I remember that as a student, I was astonished.  It represented iconoclasm, and that ran counter to everything I had learned. I was taught that a professional sculptor will never sculpt a life-size human figure positioned in an urban space. The statue must be larger than life. You, intuitively, do not fashion life-size figures. Instead, you make them smaller than life. You violate this law. 
There is no conversation between equals between observer and statue, the observer lowers his gaze and observes them from above.  It is unclear whether the figures are natural or supernatural. Your city square is imaginary. You simulate a city square inside the closed gallery building, which is a postmodern and conceptual act. You remove the city square from its historical urban context. This is a procession of people who do not move, a static procession. There is a paradoxical effect here. We see people walking somewhere without moving from their place. 
The City Square as a place of assembly has precedents in ancient pagan sculpture. The first statues known to man are circles of large stones with proportions very similar to those of the human figure:   Stonehenge in England from the Stone Age; the standing heads of Easter Islands which was apparently a ritual site; the columns in Greece that became women-like caryatids in place of columns bearing the weight of the building; and, of course, we can add the terracotta warriors of Xian, China and the photographs of hundreds of nude figures by Spencer Tunick, who turns the figures into texture, rendering them of no importance in and of themselves. 

Hava -
Two years ago I wandered through New York’s museums and galleries, and what excited me the most was an early Giacometti, the head of a woman sculpted before he began sculpting his long statues.

 Miriam -
Giacometti cannot be ignored. His figures stand alongside one another, long and narrow, figures that were consumed by external tension. Everything pressures the figures – the tension of life, society, the air enveloping them – they have lost their flesh. Your figures are clones who been resurrected. I fantasize your installation as a band of clones who have been resurrected, standing and staring in amazement at the world revealed before their eyes.

Hava -
You are taking this to a very apocalyptic place. We have the destruction of the original – man, and in his place a band of clones appears. Why the insistence on clones?

Miriam -
Because you cast the same figure several times and place it in the crowd. It’s the same figure from the same mold and it is standing in the same position. You sculpt yourself and duplicate yourself, and nobody knows which is the original and which is the copy. In the 1930s, Walter Benjamin predicted that the original would lose its authenticity and aura because of the ability to duplicate it. Do you feel that the original that you sculpted has lost its value because of the replication. Come to think of it, where is the original?

Hava -
The original has disappeared. It has been destroyed. It’s sitting in a pail of water at Gabi’s foundry, waiting to be turned into recycled clay, as in “for dust you are, and unto dust shall you return”.
The replica is important, and I find the process fascinating, including the trials and tribulations that I suffer throughout the difficult casting process. Every statue requires hours of corrections, and the painting process is also exhausting and takes quite some time. It’s not exactly the mass duplication process through photography and offset printing that Walter Benjamin was talking about. I want to fill the city square with dozens or even hundreds of figures, and this is the only way to achieve it. The city square is the final work.
Unlike painting, sculpting has a wonderful feature: It is multifaceted, you can turn the figure around and create infinite perspectives.  All you have to do is turn it a little, and the figure looks completely different.
There is also the psychological aspect. A person looks at himself in the mirror and sees a figure, ostensibly an identical figure, a perfect doppelganger, but what he actually sees is a mirror image, a picture with a slight distortion.  Of course you can ask which is the original and which is the copy, and attempt to comprehend the reflected image.
“No healthy person, it appears, can fail to make some addition that might be called perverse to the normal sexual aim,” wrote Freud in his book, Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality.
The doppelgangers in the installation are not identical, each is different, each is a mirror image with a slight distortion, a distorted replica.

Miriam -
This group of statues is not of this world, and that’s why I called them clones who have been reborn.  What we have here is a phenomenon that is unnatural, almost mystical. The figures stand on their own two feet. A statue cannot stand balanced on just two points. The sculptor always adds a third point, at the very least. This is common knowledge for anyone who has studied sculpting. Yours all stand by themselves, on their own two feet. That is rare, and virtually impossible. One or two statues, maybe, but all of them. It really is very rare. What force is holding them?

Hava -
I have no idea. I never studied sculpting and I didn’t know about the three points.

Miriam -
Don’t play the innocent. You painted figurative paintings and you have an MA from the US.

Hava -
At the art department at Washington University where I studied, there was vehement opposition to realistic painting. We dealt mainly with concepts, and my works from that period are very conceptual. Only when I returned to Israel did I teach myself realistic painting.

Miriam -
The conceptual element in this work of yours is indeed very strong.
The way you paint the statues is what makes them come to life. They aren’t painted a single color; they are painted in coats, lots of purples, greens and blues, under the flesh tone. Every figure reminds me of Lazarus, the man that Jesus resurrected. Lazarus was resurrected in a body bearing signs of decay.

Hava -
The Impressionists understood color very well. They understood that those colors of decay, blues, purples and greens, are the way to resurrect the body. I work in oils on statues made of hollow aluminum the way I worked with paint on canvas in order to create an illusion of the human body. I was surprised to discover that this is much harder.

Miriam -
The Greek statues in the Parthenon were painted. Sculptures have always been painted, even though they came to us without paint, white statues, and that is how they entered our culture. The Greek marble statues were painted in bright colors – lapis lazuli blue and bright terracotta. The paint, together with the sun, created a symphony that is hard to describe today.  

Hava -
I surmise that they decorated them with a thin coat of clean paint. I am not sure that worked in the statue’s favor, and maybe it’s a good thing that they came to us white and devoid of paint, free of distractions. Because painting a statue is a form of interference. The statue objects. It doesn’t want to be a painting.
It was not an easy battle, but the only way I had to bring the statues to life or, as you put it, “to resurrect the clones,” was through painting.   I come from painting and, ultimately, I always return to it.

[1] Professor Gregory Ostrovsky, Four on Five Vol. 60, November 1994

[2] Professor Avishai Eyal, Hava Raucher – Secular Icons  Four on Five Vol. 42, May 1993

[3] Orna Silverman, Multidirectional Interpretation of the Sacrifice of Isaac in the 1980s: Political-Social Directions, the Virtual Library of the CET, The Center for Educational Technology. 2009, Mandel Leadership Institute.

[4] Published in Maarav, an online Hebrew-language magazine dedicated to culture, media and art, on April 13, 2005.

              [5] Published in the periodical The Terminal, in its Writings by Artists section, in September 2007.

[6] Resurrection of the Clones, published in the online magazine Erev Rav: Art. Culture. Society, on November 7, 2011, a conversation between Miriam Gamburd and Hava Raucher about Raucher’s exhibition The City Square, presented at the Artists House in Tel Aviv.

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