Alexandra Zuckerman: Flower Fields, Noga Gallery, Tel Aviv
By Nicola Trezzi
Rooted in the language of drawing, and yet informed by its numerous declinations – from painting to tapestry, from animation to textile –, the work of Alexandra Zuckerman sheds light on the thin line separating the field of Fine Art from that of applied arts; furthermore her appropriative use of techniques that belong to folklore, tradition and even amateurism, aims at contextualizing the histories of female artistic practices against a backdrop of unilaterality, which dominates the History of Art (with capital H and A).
Her latest body of work, which gives the title to this exhibition, is inspired by technical illustrations included in manuals and magazines for embroidery, cross-stitch and knitting. These images are specific and universal at the same time, they trigger the memory of places like Russia – where the artist was born and grew up before immigrating to Israel with her family – or Jaffa – where she currently lives. Each drawing starts with a grid, which is drawn by hand, and consequently enriched by different fields of color, which are obtained by filling, again by hand, each square with crayons. Due to this technique, this series of drawings behaves differently according to their position in front of the viewer. Similarly to mosaics, they allow a double encounter –“bird’s–eye view” versus closeup.
In addition to that, the artist is interested here in the notion of repetition and how such repetition both entails pleasure and echoes the original craft – embroidery, cross–stitch and knitting –connected to the source of these images. Following such premises, some drawings are based on textile patterns and ornaments; there is always a tension between the motifs that appear in each drawing and its palette, which is based on tonal variations.
Continuing Zuckerman’s aforementioned interest in gently dismantling the notion of unilateral perception, this new series is emphasizing the possibility of working through abstraction and figuration simultaneously; while this tension can be encapsulated by the coexistence between an abstract layer – the pencil grid – and a figurative layer - the crayons blocks , between black and white – the pencil and the paper – and color – the crayons –, one cannot help but think how such tension can symbolize, once again, the artist’s desire to create a space that incorporates categories in order to erase them. Last but not least, the strict technical procedure behind these works could be seen, paradoxically, as a meditative act, confirming once again Zuckerman’s drawings as visual oxymorons.