CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE
Hagigat1, Interview by Eitan Buganim
Originally published in Timeout Tel Aviv, 16.06.2011
Aline Alagem in a new show of realistic paintings, staring her friends during a party
You had a party, and painted the photographs taken in it. Why?
“It came from a place of making a group portrait in a given moment of a Tel Avivian night out, an attempt to talk about identity in the least mannerist manner that I can, the most naturalistic, if you can say that. I was trying to grasp at the local context, to cull my actions in it and find out how I am creating my identity on all of its parameters. It was very important to me to talk about Tel Aviv and about Israel, not in a forced way but the closest to how I am experiencing it, and still to feel loyal to a foreign, far away gaze”.
And how did the identity turn out?
"I guess it's still not clear to me how I am placing myself. I don't want to present the image or my story through the known dogmas. I was bothered that as an Israeli I have to come up with what kind of story I'm selling, and especially bothered having two options: ether escape and suppration that's manifested in the pathology of the foreign imagery, or primitivism, meaning an obvious, crude use Israeli imagery symbolism. I want to know what is different about me, what can I tell differently. Who am I and who are the people surrounding me”.
So what option did you choose?
"A blend. No one will look at these paintings and thing this is LA. However they do radicalize/ something richer than the local. I was searching to create a portrait that in it I manage to be at peace with myself, that I'm saying something about who I really am. It's not a document, it's a description of my need to understand and place myself. This whole thing is like fear of death, an attempt to leave tombstones behind us”.
And isn't this staying limited to the clique?
"This is my place, and the choice was out of my own personal biographical desire. There are no actors here. I needed these people, who are my friends, because eventually the idea was pretty romantic. From beginning to end I'm in love with the person I'm painting. Although I'm aware of the fragility of the move/ act I’m making, every brush stroke aims to glorify and not to sober, to handle in a loving way in the image I'm dealing with”.
There were probably tons of photographs. How did you choose?
" There were hundreds. I intuitively chose concrete images that rise to life thanks to the person in it and not a party statement. I wanted the flare in the eyes, the glance, the magic, the dialogue with the viewer, the thing I could not control at the party. Usually I plan everything ahead, so it was hard for me to ge for a project where I have no idea what will come out from it. At the party I really was pretty drunk and things happened by themselves”.
So what was the urgency for this project, actually?
"I have no better option than doing what only I can do. You can stretch yourself to make conceptual art, to sharpen systems of reaction and space, but where are you in all of it? Fuck it, I don't believe in that. I believe that I have to focus on what's mine the most. In any case there's no chance I can base mt art on paraphrases, so since it scares me so much hoe everything resembles everything, I go back to the classic dimension of the glance, the impressionism, the fascination”.
Does the fascination cancel the critical aspect?
"The critical aspect that strives under things will always be present. It offers the fading of things, the possibility that non of this actually happened. But that is obvious and not what should be in the top hierarchy of my work. Also as a person I don't want to be bitter.”
But it sounds like you have something to say about the situation.
" What's trendy today here and in general is art that art that allows a comfortable space for the curiosity coma. The lightness and nonchalant of the artist is over rated. Usually you'll see a thin, turbid, art product that takes little space, meaning the most of the mass occupy s the reading of the viewer that senses his self importance, that enables the smugness that results from the interpretive space that he has, to replace an alert, active reading with a passive state. Standing in front of a Caravaggio masterpiece the viewer doesn't occupy any space, the painting is the mass. Hence if the viewer genuinely looks at realism, the confrontation with the question of what exist beyond the first glance is much sharper. I feel that there's a lot of power to the marveling realism”.
But realism is also unnecessary.
"why isn’t anyone asking what's the benefit or interest in a conceptual act, but they do in realist painting? Enough, this question is tiring. I'm interested in talking about painting and not photography, because in painting you fell the mass, the hand that stroke the curve/ It's pretty desperate, but I do it in order to prove to myself that I have it, that I’ve made it mine”.
The show is titled Flash Powder.
"It's used for fireworks, and fireworks are like the Tel Avivian nigh out with the bright light, the glaces tapping, the deafening volume, it happens so fast and leaves nothing. There's no other place in the world with as much need to suppress or release in order to party like this. I hope that the same ratio between the decadent situation and the day that preceded, is the same one in the painting as well. I wanted to say something about this place with love, compassion and faith, and still allow life- the violent, gray florescent, the fact that as an Israeli and as an artist you never know what tomorrow's going to be like- to happen”.
1A drug popular in local party scene
Yonatan Amir, Exhibition review
In the praise of intuition
Maximalism, Avni Institute of Arts and Design Tel Aviv
Originally published in Israel Ha'yom (Israel Today), 12.09.2009
An Ambitious yet not pretentious group exhibition in the name of Maximalism that was curated by Aline Alagem, is showing at Avni Institute of Arts and Design Tel Aviv at the moment.
Alagem is a painter, and it's clear to see that the show was curated by an artist and not by a curator. The contexts between the works are intuitive rather than schematic, and derive from healthy gut feelings rather than hallow quotes of critical theory.
A professional curator wouldn’t have chosen to pair, for example, Yonathan Shilo with Dana Yoeli or Gabi Kricheli with Arik Miranda, and the fact that these installations are made freely, without being rapped in footnotes, only does the works good.
The term Maximalism in art is immediately linked to minimalism and is considered to be a response to the minimalistic art movement that evolved in the 60's and 70's. If minimalism means formative cleanliness and sterile images- maximalism is categorized in copiousness, momentum and narrative images. This is the primary definition, however the years that had passed since the minimalistic movement was born, had influenced the formal conception at it's base, and today one can recodnise minimalistic art in it's style and maximalist in it's content and vice versa.
Examples of this mentioned reversion can be found in the works of Yonatan Shilo, that are characterized in geometrical esthetics but hold within a fundamental statement, opposite to the dense to merely burst paintings of Gabi Kricheli, that succeed to create the impact of an internal explosion.
“Maximalism is existentialism” writes Alagem, and refers to the feelings of urgency and totality that characterizes creation. And indeed, passion and intensity are present in this beautiful show, that succeeds to be maximalistic without requiring a massive production.
Dalia Markovitz, Aline Alagem, "Pink Noise"
Originally published in HaKivun Mizrah Magazine (Direction East), Bimat Kedem Press, No. 14, Summer 2007.
Aline Alagem's work exposes the materialistic culture of both real and imagined wealth: stilettos, shiny cars, motorcycles, sunglasses, precise topiary. The images offer a fraternity of “healthy” consumerism, relating to Guy Debord's statement that spectacle “is first and foremost a point of view translated into material”1.
Alagem's paintings invite us to peek into a fantastical inner space. In Untitled, 2005 [fig i], we see a geometric white cottage upon a surface of a neatly trimmed lawn. The house is fully accessorized by large French doors. Through the glass, a plush living room suite can be glimpsed. The house's panoramic boastfulness flows into the clear surface of the swimming pool, the richness surrounding the pool multiplied through the reflected lights. The fantastical wealth is trapped between the water's shiny surface and the starless sky. The intensity of wealth is reflected through a minimalistic aesthetic flare and precise finishes. This is the depiction of the most important resource: leisure time. Leisure time, which allows striding comfortably in delicate, high-heeled shoes, lying in the soft whiteness of the easy chairs, taking a dip in the seductive chilled waters of the private swimming pool, perpetuates the contemporary wealthy lifestyle. The sense of wealth shining from inside the house simultaneously radiates a sense of shining solitude. This glow is penetrable, existing independently, surrounded by clear bands of power and intensity. The industry of fantastic dreams is an empty and isolated island; a materialistic, impersonal world, imagined and sneaky. The wealth always exists as a possibility, but the real touch with it is partial and non consistent. The wealth can be grabbed for short periods: during an exotic vacation, by wearing an expensive garment, or in a prestigious restaurant. The wealth will always be there as a temporary means of managing impression or as an act of imitation, but never as an item by itself. The global sense of the shining figure and its simulacrum nature turned it into a mosaic form of quotes and quote parts. The trial to look rich, like rich, is doomed to a fragmented journey of search and continuous masquerading – hybrid life at its best.
The hybrid sense is found in the gap between the shining shell of the imagined and the daily routine. The fictitious, shining imagined combination is present in many works. So, for example in a series of works, devoted to the name Aline – the artist’s first name, symbolic images of wealth in the European image, presented in her name. Aline is harnessing the letters combining her name to the dreams industry: on one work, the signature is written in an elegant and prestigious curl, on another work, the letters are cut from a glowing scenery picture, in another, they are airy blue drops, splashed with strict negligence and in another they are heavy golden glittering. Also the private body, carrying the name Aline does not escape the rule of material. In one portrait it is wrapped in a black elegant neckline, in another, it is lying in full nude on soft silk bedding.
But the desired dream wealth is a dual face phenomenon. Those who wish to stage their lives to its light, risk falling into another image: aggressive, vulgar. A violent scene of this type appears in an event which crosses together food, prestige and power. In the work “Untitled”, a delicate pair of hand wearing an expensive ring, is poking into a bleeding chunk of live flesh. The flesh lies on a black table, between glowing cups of wine. The poking hand is the top of the “food chain” - the incarnation of capitalistic victory. Another work destroys the mythical “Cinderella effect”. In this work, silver high heel shoes are shown put on delicate feet, smeared with red nail polish. But the delicate feet are amputated, splashing blood on the lush rich area. The work “Heart of Gold” also deals with live flesh. An extracted heart made of gold stand there in glowing solitude vis-à-vis the enchanted scene bubble, portraying the power of money. The violent representations of the wealth drag the viewer to a different type of hybrid sense: to a complex mixture of conflicting images, acting against each other. It seems that the work is positioning in it center the private swimming pool springboard, summarizing the many faces of the illusive exhibition. The white springboard is located across from an empty and opaque surface. It's location exposes the desired space of the wealth as a fake space, offering a huge leap into the lap of nowhere.