Reviews & Articles

Noam Omer presents powerful and enigmatic paintings at the Kibbutz Gallery

By Hemdah Rosenbaum, Ahbar Ha-Ir, July 2008

All the paintings and drawings in Noam Omer's individual exhibition "The World" at the Kibbutz Gallery were made on very simple paper (about 1m. wide and in different lengths). Omer, a young painter, who studied at the "Midrashah", fills up the large rectangles completely, in a thick drawing technique with charcoal, with additions of colored pastel or acrylic. Omer seems to ignore the frail medium of the paper, creating rich, detailed and enigmatic paintings that, if they only could, would definitely demand a more classical medium such as canvass.

 

This contrast between the richness of the images – massive manly figures in dramatic postures – and the simple material points to Noam's intense creative pressure, giving the impression that this painter is not one of the art-schools' usual products ", but somoene that stands at the border between the conventional artistic world and a reality beyond it. This feeling becomes stronger by the fact that he is being presented at the Kibbutz Gallery: Yaniv Shapira, the gallery's curator, is known for his liking for this kind of liminal art. Omer's exhibition has some similarities to another exhibition presented at the gallery this year, "Mo Kremer's last work", by Meir Agassi. Mo Kremer, one of Agassi's invented artistic personae, is a marginal artist, working like Noam with a highly direct and immediate technique.

 

But there is also a classical dimension to Omer's work. The reproductions in the catalogue that conceal, intentionally or not, the simple paper material of the works, disclose this classical dimension. Viewed from this angle innumerable allusions to the work of painters from the early 20th century come up. The tension between flatness and depth is characteristic of cubism and its offshoots; the massive display of the figures reminds one of Picasso or of Ruben Rubin, the well-known painter who founded an Israeli School integrating cubism with naive art. The intensive surfaces of hatched lines call especially Van Gogh to mind.

 

However, Omer's motives are not classical ones, but create an enigmatic inner world. In many of the paintings we see male figures in strong emotional situations: a man strangles another with only one arm, while the other is drawn along in complete helplessness; a male figure carries another on his arms, in a painting called "Pietá"; or men hold up fishes in their hands, as if offering them to the viewer, with an expression of total shock on their faces.

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