My interior map has been irrevocably stamped by the immigrant experience. I was born, in Bolivia of immigrant parents, raised in Israel, and then I moved to Canada as an adult. I have thus accumulated attachments to disparate places. Their contrasting cultures and man-made and natural environments have helped to mould the realm of my consciousness. They have also left me with the immigrant’s pervasive sense of dislocation and reconciliation. It is this dialectal experience that I have sought to explore in Mindscapes.
To work out the composition for the paintings, I first did a series of studies. My methodology involved placing two different photographic images on either side of the picture plane. I juxtaposed a shot of a Middle Eastern column with a Bolivian mountain scene; a wall of windows from a Toronto school classroom with a 1930s Bauhaus Tel Aviv building; the Christian quarter in Old Jerusalem with a colonnade on the campus of the University of Toronto. I chose photographic images that had for me a personal aesthetic, metaphoric and associative appeal. In the studies and subsequent paintings, I then worked to transform and distill the images down to their essence. In my recent series Dichotomy I juxtaposed the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin with the Barrier Wall in the West Bank in order to explore the two darkest parts of my history and identity.
The final compositions evolve in their own ways. At times, my evocations of the two images gradually became reconciled to form the essence of a new and imagined place. At other times, the images continued to stand separately and reverberate off one another. The colours of my palette are varied: Indian yellow, burnt sienna, crimson alizarin, ultramarine violet. My goal was to create environments that, rather than being literal and specific, inhabit the realm of memory and association, and connect to the viewers’ unconscious.
For this reason, I have also chosen to paint prototypical architectural elements. A repeating motif is the column and colonnade. The colonnade is innately suggestive of the dialectical tension between the darkness and the light, between the inside and outside. I grew up in a region torn by war, in which I was indoctrinated to divide the world between “us” and “them.” My work is a result of my moving to a multicultural society, whose inclusive values embrace all of us as “we.”