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
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
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
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.
Bar Lev, David
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.