Marsupials // Galia Yahav

Timeout magazine, 14-28.4.11  

Translation: Yael Nussbaum

Shira Glezerman paints stuffed animals, girls in the snow, circus bears and animals preserved in formaldehyde.
Is this the theater of the absurd or a call to go vegetarian?

The Birthday of the Infanta/ Shay Aryeh Gallery

Shira Glezerman’s solo exhibition contains large panoramic oil paintings alongside smaller ones that isolate a floating object in an ambiguous space. Girls or young woman alongside animals preserved in formaldehyde, and circus bears taken from a variety of photographs and websites and rearranged in the painting space.

In the accompanying text, a conversation between Tsibi Geva and Glezerman, the latter talks about her attraction to “the dead, the decomposed, to visual or mental wounds, accompanied by a dissonance that allows me an aware observation of them.”

Allegedly it’s yet another of these exhibitions by polite female artists, whose concepts of profundity include a banal interpretation of childhood memories, worshiping their father while trying to distinguish themselves in order to find their place in the world, but not capable enough of converting that father and his rules into the language and into art.

Glezerman escapes this girl-from-next-door with her obsessive obedience not only through the deviant mis-en-scenes she composes (a girl holding a rabbit in the snow, animals preserved in formaldehyde, a woman holding a machine gun in the middle of a street and circus bears) but also through some picturesque moments of grace. These are the moments that manage to convey the mental wound not only on the level of the visual information offered but also in the manner in which she approaches the work of painting.

One of these is the eyes of the stuffed bear held by Glezerman the child, as photographed in her childhood and transformed into oil on canvas as an adult. The child leans over the bear, holding its neck and framing his face with her elbow, unaware of his dead and preserved status, but the mature adult, fishing this photo out of the photo album, looks at this dead-alive image and not only tells us her personal story, but also that the act of painting is analogous to taxidermy. At the heart of the realistic painting are two black spots, almost devoid of any outline, empty and opaque. These are the eyes of the visual bear, in which the viewer’s eyes may drown in an almost Anish Kapoor-sense, pupil to pupil, as a living being observing the dead, the adult observing the child he was, or reconstructing the parent who photographed Shira then, and briefly considers his own mortality. Those black eye holes will return in a self-portrait drawn from a blunt low angel, with the object looking from above, aggressively, like a hunter staring down her prey.

The pathetic, one-dimensional fanatical stance of she who is a “vegetarian for many years and vehemently against any exploitation of animals for food or for pleasure, and of course the exploitation of humans”, which regards the painting as a continuance of life or some sort of billboard for public announcements – is escaped by the painting itself in some instances. In the painting “It could never happen here” there is a dramatic exaggeration that reveals a certain irony towards the situation. A skeletal grey tree, empty of leaves, fills the background as a setting. Other than a vague cabin in back, the entire surface is dotted with snowflakes that appear to be effects, and the entire setting looks like a photography set. In front (at the bottom right corner, as she should be) is a sad-eyed girl who holds a warm, furry, quivering rabbit that represents the gentleness that needs to be protected. The blunt melodrama is a kind of advertiser’s phrasing, a scheme of sadness, foreignness, and isolation that is free of depth, also in the way of painting from the canvas and out, until the painting is almost a screen.

The overly tough blonde wearing the white jumpsuit reminiscent of a gang or a militia is also at the bottom of the painting, enlarged in comparison to the industrial structure in the back, and she too is perceived as exaggerated, like video clips, as a one-dimensional image that is self-promoting as strong, with her eyes following the viewer.

Geva also noticed that Glezerman “speaks of disturbance and of going to an extreme and eccentric place, but the painting is very disciplined and is built using processes that are slow and methodological. There is a dissonance between the method and the image, or the internal image, that thing you describe about yourself.”

Indeed, the relationship between the supervision and normalization, the discipline and regime and the strangeness and rarity of the image described produces moments of strength and moments of kitsch. In this sense, the exhibition is not consistently uniform and is not free of emotionality and sentimentality. For those who do not tend to admire the quality of execution in itself and do not suffice with it, the strength lies in the areas where the artist deviates from the discipline of loyal imitation towards purely picturesque moments that are produced by its own means.