Solo Show 2015
“Sculpture workshop”/ Noam Wenkert
Three series of paintings from 2013-2015
Text written by: Tal Gilad with Noam Wenkert, edited by: Efrat Even-Tzur
Guest Artist Gallery, Hamidrasha Art School at Beit Berl College, Kfar Saba, Israel
Sculpture workshop was Noam Wenkert’s first solo show taking place at the Guest Artist Gallery, Hamidrasha Art School at Beit Berl College as a first in the series exhibitions in the medium of Painting, initiated by the head of the department and painter Hillel Roman.
The artist-painter Noam Wenkert is exhibiting painting that celebrates and justifies the medium. In three different serieses, made in the same time-frame, she evokes reflexive thought on the relationship between subject and object, as she turned the tables with the model and those modelling, a customer and service provider, representer and represented.
The Sculpture Workshop
A series of ten gouache and pastel on paper in a large format (110x150 cm) based on snapshot photography. The original photos were taken in a sculpting class where the artist worked as a nude model. The photographer viewpoint is from a model on a rotating table in the middle of the room, that provided multiple angles to observe her as the students were making a model figure of her body. The decision to inspect what’s happening on the other side with snap-shot and later with painting came from the will to reclaim the situation where the artist/model was used as an object to observe at. In the pictures taken there is no pretension of photographic skills, as the snapshot was taken only to serve as a reference and tool to make an imagery that transcends what a photograph can be. However, the limitations of photography were a liberating tool for the painting: poor lighting conditions in a shelter used as a studio created a greenish tint that created a gloomy atmosphere; The flatness of the photographic nature has created disorientation to distinct between different perspectives and depth of spaces; Windows turned to pictures, plastic covers on half-finished clay sculpture became mini ”Brâncuși“ sculptures/little modernistic sculptures.
The model and those modelling had merged and became material for the painter who turned the metal shelves in the background of the pictures into architectural spaces. Those invite us to see what’s happening between the nude sculptures in the background that now have a new life together and apart.
This series, which includes one hundred and twenty small scale portrait paintings, featured female prostitutes and their "Johns". as they are observed from from the artist’s studio window view. The studio is located on the ruins of the old central bus station in South Tel-Aviv. Noam examines the characters through the window as they are leaning against the wall, sitting on the pavement, in the street surrounding and in between stopping cars. Her subjects are semi-passive: drinking coffee, conversing, smoking cigarettes, resting in a basic existing mode. Most of them are in a waiting stage - a convenient time to be looked at and painted.
Art history gossip tells us that a lot of an artist’s models were in fact prostitutes - as it is suspected in Caravaggio’s Madonna in The Death of the Virgin (c. 1601-6) and is known for a fact in the case of Manet’s Olympia (1863). Degas little dancers were also pimped in the sex industry. In this context of Painting: Venus is a prostitute and Marry is not just Maria Magdalena. In fact, every woman represented in a religious or mythological scene could have been a prostitute in reality. In these 120 paintings, the women working as prostitutes are used as painting subjects, only to be looked at without the potential of being bought as paintings.
Noam is using the models available in her surroundings, although the distance between them does not allow accurate and punctilious attribute. The outcome therefore is something between a portrait and a model study. In the painting only a character is captured.
A statuette in a standing pose differs in clothing and other external characteristics. The frames show subjects who are unaware of the camera and positioned far away. As opposed to other "artistic" projects that deal with representing the unrepresented in society, here there’s an effort to get the individual who is transparent. It is customary to photograph a large up-close-and-personal portrait of the subject. It’s an obvious tactic and most direct in order to create visibility to the "invisible" in society. However, this does not necessarily serve the purpose of individuality but instead creates a “poster-child” of the subject, by using imagery borrowed from advertising. Yet, Noam’s painting style is raw and concise. At times it’s with a strong colour palate and confident brush strokes which create form and volume with a few lines and patches of colours. Because of the restrictions of format and distance, clothing become a dominant characteristics to attribute to the characters: revealing or covered, patterned or in print, from winter to summer season, with accessories like umbrellas, raincoats, and bags. In the paintings we see women with brunette, blonde, curly and straight hair, dark and light skin, full bodied and thin, attractive and less attractive, dressed sporty and sexy.
This is in a complete contrast to photos shown on sex-advertising cards featuring super slim porno industry looking models wearing vinyl and stilettos, offering discreet intimacy. The every-woman depiction exposes the reality of prostitution hard and banal. Women who did not choose their fate, who are someone’s sister, mother, daughter. Women who may be a lot of other things and each one is an entire world - the aim is not to try and represent them to one positive goal. It’s an effort to avoid passing judgment - to visualize them in a way that is not affected by their class and status, with directness and integrity, presented as a form of social realism.
Paintings from the desk in the studio
A series of four, medium sized, oil on canvas paintings,are an evolution of the series “120” and are influenced by ideas in the sculpture workshop. This series is most recent and is a direct continuation of the issue that concerns Noam in her practice. Paintings of still life staged on the studio-desk are presented like a theatre set. These are self made scale models using chosen characters from 120 with art tools and supplies.
The improvised vehicles to store the supplies are painted too and merged with the same surrounding aesthetics like in the sculpture workshop. The models include black paper cuttings in the shape of people held with a bamboo skewer, rainbow curtain from the outside, and a purple play-dough lump that was made into a figure of a horse. Is it the sculpture that serves the painting to create imagery a Trojan horse? Innocent, yet holds a potential hot spot? It is made of a soft non permanent material made for children to play with no option to become irreversible. Perhaps it is about to change.
Noam’s art practice is inventive, raw and uses a direct type of painting. Working with colours on paper, her colour-scheme tends to the exaggerated, using pure hues of orange and purple. Her skillful hand never chooses to paint in detail with a liner brush, but prefers the wet on wet technique on creating a smooth blending. She shows virtues using gouache and pastel (that are most known today as the favourite kids/arts and craft kind of paint) and mix in a childlike manner the rules of oil painting. She is observing from a close-far distance through photography. For Noam, the choice is to paint anytime for it is a medium that serves her to defy reality, strip it down and build it again like a set.his complex relations comes through especially in the last series where a theatre like series plays on work relations.
Like Noam’s other works, she insists on finding the fantastic in the banal and shows the plain and mundane in what is perceived as dark and dangerous.
Noam Wenkert (1979, kfar saba)
2015-2016- B.Ed. Completion for practicing teachers, Kibbutzim College
2010-2012- M.F.A in Fine Arts from Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design
2006-2009 -Studied Art at Hamidrasha School of Art at Beit Berl College
2001-2005-B.A in Linguistics and General studies in the Faculty of Humanities Tel Aviv University