STORYTELLERS

The exhibition's absent-presence is a photograph by Jeff Wall, The Storyteller (1986), which inspired the title of the exhibition and to which it pays homage.
Who is telling a story there? Whom to? A Native American woman, to two men. They are not conscious of our presence, the viewers who observe them; they are absorbed in the story. Who are the storytellers here, in the exhibition? Artists who endeavor to unfold a story. After the abstract, after the concept.

The exhibition bearing the title of Wall's photograph is the first of two chapters: the second chapter – Untitled – will follow, and will set out to present the pole antithetical to the storyteller facet, art in its enigmatic, mute incarnation. At the end of the process we may find that the Storytellers and the Untitled artists are not so far apart. For a story embodied in art is always distorted and twisted, its narrative is neither linear nor unequivocal; there is more to it than meets the eye.

The exhibition begins with Shalom from Safed (Shalom Moskovitz), a na?ve painter and a religious man who truly believed in painting's ability to tell a story. At the other end of the exhibition are Itzik Rennert and Mira Friedmann, illustrators, members of the Actus Tragicus group, who introduce figurative painting accompanied by text, in a book format; a fifth column of narrativity within the art world.

Presented in-between, between Shalom from Safed and illustration, is a wide spectrum of narrative modes: via text, video, photography, various objects, and, of course, still – via painting.

The video pieces by Boaz Arad, Michael Blum, Yossi Breger, Guy Ben-Ner, Nadav Weissman, Lia Shnaider & Liron Levi, rely on various cinematic models (animation, silent film, nature films, documentaries, art films, etc.), and at the same time, interfere with and dissolve these very models.

Photographs of the type presented by Barry Frydlender or Tracey Moffatt, as well as Nurit David's paintings, always contain a narrative lead. They are replete with visual details that we observe, and subsequently name.

Jenifer Bar Lev, David Ginton, Assi Meshulam, and Michal Spektor use, each in his/her own way, the text itself: letters, sentences, entire pages, a book format. When presented in an art context, these texts are at once yielding and elusive – conveying the appearance of a story, yet ultimately transpiring as an artistic object, not necessarily legible.

At the corner of Storytellers' eye is another absent-presence, external to the exhibition but also a part of it – Avraham Ofek's large-scale wall painting at the entrance to the University building, opposite the gallery. The monumental painting (1986-1988) is a rare example nowadays for painting inspired by murals of the past, a painting with a reading direction (from right to left), an evolving plot (even if it is symbolic or allegorical), a painting intended to be viewed while walking, a walk that generates an act of reading.