Thierry-Goldberg Gallery is pleased to present MAYA BLOCH’s third solo show with the gallery -- here you are -- a series of portrait paintings that blur the representational and the abstract, while enacting a drama of violence and obscurity, anonymity and recognition.
Alluding to the expression that is attached to the gesture of the one who gives, as much as to the gesture of the one who receives, the title “Here You Are,” also suggests the ways boundaries blur between the subject(s) and the viewer in Bloch’s work. The subject’s eyes serve as the clearest focal point in otherwise dizzying swashes of hues that drip and morph, and the painted gaze seems to be infused with a touch of haunting realism; enough, one might argue, to make the viewer feel as if they themselves were being looked at in the very act of looking.
As the eyes’ bold depiction in the portraits come into contrast with the collisions of color, the alternating play and sobriety of Bloch’s vision is further amplified. The darkened spaces from which figures are conjured have the air of a cave, or ill-lit, windowless interior, and the paintings ooze a sense of the simultaneous obscurity and awareness of history in the very act of its staging—here, the forms of unknown persons are rekindled like spirits onto canvases. Out of spaces, sometimes geometrically differentiated yet unidentifiable in their darkness, comes physical features that take shape just as they dissolve out of focus and dissipate into the pure materiality of the medium.
Experimenting with the process of making, as well as playing with the limits of paint and other like mediums, the artist uses found images to jumpstart her process, mixing acrylic and water, and then pouring color that gradually pools into abstract forms that converse with the tracings of the figure until eventually, the original image is discarded entirely, and the artist enters into more direct dialogue with the paint. To complicate the texture and expand the vocabulary of the image, Bloch mixes oils and inks to her acrylics, and, in some cases uses mixed media and collage techniques, manipulating her images in order to let the painting evolve into its final manifestation. In Untitled (Bella), a brownish diagonal ribbon on the neckline suggests a kind of physical and metaphysical severance—there is a violence that lingers in the interactions of different mediums. The uncanny quality of the image is magnified by the ways in which one of the girl’s yellow calves appears inhumanely glossy, as though it were some inanimate object. This discombobulated atmosphere, where things quite literally don’t seem to quite “fit” or come together, evokes the fantastic, the eerie, and the antic. And indeed, Bloch’s work seems to provide a playground in which all three of these aspects of her work are fully and tirelessly engaged.
Maya Bloch, b. in 1978, lives and works in Tel Aviv, Israel. She has previously exhibited at Sommer Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv
(solo); The Haifa Museum of Art, Haifa (solo); Tavi Dresdner Gallery, Tel Aviv (solo); PPOW Gallery, New York; Marlborough Gallery, New York; The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), Brooklyn, NY; SecondGuest Gallery, New York; Cerritos College Art Gallery, Los Angeles; Noga Gallery, Tel Aviv; and the Petach-Tikva Museum, Israel. Her exhibitions were reviewed in Artforum, Art in America, and The New York Observer.