Oren Eliav. Mount Zero
15.09.2020 – 23.12.2020
“I like to think of a painting as an event, not a thing. When you look at a painting, it is up to you how much time you are with it. You can have a glance, extract the information and name what you see (“It’s a landscape”) and then move on. Conversely, you can choose to give it more time, go past the image and start looking…. If the painting is good, your perception keeps shifting and you can feel and observe those shifts. In a way, looking at painting is a chance for looking at looking” – Oren Eliav in conversation with Maria Chiara Valacchi, April 2020.
Mount Zero is a poetic choreography of paintings, a visual treatise on the nature of time. The show engages with the architectural structure of the BUILDING venue, gradually revealing the complexity of the artist’s expressive approach.
The exhibition is presented in four chapters, corresponding with the four floors of the gallery, from the ground floor up: Foot of the Mountain, Crossing, Crossing at Night and Equalizer.
Mount Zero begins on the ground floor, titled At the Foot of the Mountain. In a vast landscape, we engage with shifting perspectives and subtle chromatic variations of syncopating images, hinting at what is about to unfold as we move up the space.
On the first floor, Crossing, visitors are greeted by a multi-panel painting reiterating the action in question, as the human element is fleetingly introduced. Stone, water and light resonate with the paint itself, driven by bold brushstrokes and delicate glazes. BUILDING becomes a metaphorical space informed by physics, art history, philosophy and architecture, merging the analogue past with the digital present, all rendered in oil on canvas.
On the second floor, day becomes night. The eloquent Crossing at Night is a hallucinatory fugue dedicated to two figures, one carrying the other, as if in a dream, revealing their most humane and compassionate essence. They accompany each other on their journey through space and across time.
Going up to the top, we encounter Equalizer, a floor dominated by red paintings, raw in appearance, described by the artist as a “horizontal, neutral moment of cessation”. The peaks and troughs that have accompanied us this far finally meet in the middle, settling on the same plane, at exact zero. In this void, the story seems to come to a finish point, which could just as well be a starting point. Life comes to its end or is just beginning.
Together, Eliav’s 26 paintings form Mount Zero, a wave-like landscape, an imaginary space where mountains form and erode, stones turn into flowers and life keeps appearing and disappearing.