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Eitan buganim, Grey Sun
Originally published in Galleria Magazine, Ha'aretz, 30.1.2014
In her new solo show that opens today, Aline Alagem asks to expose what is hidden behind the mechanisms of passion and beauty
Summits of bliss, beauty, passion and ecstasy, stand at the core of Aline Alagem's new solo show, that opens today at Artstation gallery Tel Aviv. Icebergs, engineered women, cloned wild horses, pornographic scenes and luxury symbols are part of the hyper realist imagery of Alagem that appears in six new paintings on show. Alagem chose the images, plastered to the canvas as emptied peaks of inferior pictures, popular folklore of the spectacle culture, collapsing -into themselves- hyper realist compositions, in order to expose the mechanisms of passion and beauty that create heights of perfection in every moment, a promised catharsis that is never reached. The power that the image sustains, given to it so that it can ground our abstract existence, has grown into a monster to which we are enslaved. And still, says Alagem, “the passion itself for the image, even while walking astray in a dark corridor, is still authentic and I still insist on portraying it”. The passion and its lack of satisfaction is manifested for example in a painting where a porn scene meets an exotic bird- in a formation of a stir beneath the surface, beyond the congestion and lack of hierarchy, “In an impossible experience that cannot offer relief. But this is also the generator of painting, the search for relief, by duplicating the peaks”, she explains.
Next to the six paintings in the show there is also a new video work, for the first time in the painter's career. In this animation work, the artists eyes are drawn, opening and closing, with a snowy landscape that appears alternately as in a dream or a journey. Once the travel experience becomes concrete and identified, as we deepen into the landscape, it start to fade. Alagem sees in this video work, “in the pain beneath the plastic and in the sisypheanism of the landscape's frames, that charge the glowing images with the attempt to find rescue from themselves” a personal, intimate, vulnerable act.
The paintings, however, are distant for their intensity creates an eliminated relationship between the artist and the viewers. “I'm less meaningful here, the image is the protagonist”, she says, “and that's also my conflict- where do I find myself in this duality where I'm as in love with the image as I am aware of being lied to. Embracing this fascination next to my reluctance, is a situation that is as confusing to me as it is for the viewer”. In order to talk about the monstrous power of the hyper image, Alagem asks to give it the presence it has in the real world, even thought she has almost disappeared from the equation. Almost, because despite the fact her painting is conscious of its surface, it still pursuits the translation of form and sensation. In one of the paintings, for example, appears an iceberg that has left the shore, “that says something about the way I feel that passion, romance and consciousness have broke away from shore. This is a pungent feeling of detachment,” she clarifies.
The show has no title, neither do the works, there's no text appearing in it. The relative detachment to the universal is also manifested in Alagem's bleak dreams about the foreign as a universal thing, as constituting the peripheral. “I’m also talking about the desire to marvel at the here, from something you meet on you way home against the sun, but there is something in the here and now that is much too gray”, she explains.
Through the images she longs for and consumes, the artist looks for self definition and becoming one with it, “but you can't be an image, and this distance is the difficulty, it's the iceberg that has left the shore, the dream about the other place. So maybe if I keep painting it again and again it will eventually be mine.