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Original paintings Israeli artist Mirit Ben-Nun

Painting Outside the Box' by Ilan Vizgan The flute raises it's voice / what is it's story? / is it bad news or good ones or what? / It's about everything and all A poem by Nathan Alterman/ summer celebration Mirit Ben-Nun’s paintings escape common description. An objective observation might describe it as contemporary art, though created by an upbeat young female artist, it is far from contemporary. This art possesses no “present day” defining elements. Mirit's paintings speak in a distant dialect seemingly of another era and location. By trying to pinpoint this time and place, we find ourselves wandering about without a solid grasping point. Her paintings are laced with a fire-like sensuality and striking colors. The naive and archetypal characteristics remind us of folk art. Reality is lost within the ‘erroneous’ size ratio of the numerous imagery, similarly to tribal and native art in Africa, Oceania and Australia. The surface is laboriously worked and replicated similarly to rug weaving techniques. Motifs of Western Pop can be found in many of the paintings. This combination of Primeval motifs and Western Modern Art creates cultural and historical tensions between here and there, then and now. Formatively speaking the paintings are schematically divided into colorful segments with no intermediate transitions. Strong and clear boundaries outline the different areas, each is populated with a happening, opposing or complementing the one next to it. In this fashion, for example, round shapes are confronted with geometric ones or human images with those of animals and plants. Often the paintings are outlined with a ‘frame' thereby uniting the parts and creating an enclosure, like a window within a window. As a result, unconventional compositions are created and shatter the conventional formula of the "Uniformity of subject, shape & color". The rule breaking strengthens the untamed quality of these ‘uncivilized’ paintings. In the center of Ben-Nun's paintings stands the image of the woman and the relationship between the sexes. Women are displayed as curvaceous, seductive images often in dancing poses. The dance is used as a metaphor for courting and seduction; the thick red lips, at times heart- shaped, symbolize passion and love. When it seems that the implicit allure isn't sufficient, the female image is portrayed in a frontal wide stance, in a composition that reminds us of the letter W. But when the two images meet, the feminine and the masculine, the unification is complete; melding into each other, the images' side view completely overlaps. When in a seated position the whole shape converts into the letter M emphasizing the complimenting opposites. The protagonists - women and men - are accompanied by secondary characters; symbolic images of especially fish, hands (the Hamsa) and eyes. Those are prevalent in Middle East cultures and represent fertility, luck and protection from the evil eye. Their presence in the paintings, alongside the lovers, implies that the matter at hand is not barren erotica and carnal passion, but genuine love that yearns for a home, family and the raising of offsprings. Beyond that, those images provide the observer that needed grasping point, for they corral this artistic creation, that seemed at first glance to fluctuate between other cultures and histories, to bring it back into this place, our own place, the here and now. Mirit Ben-Nun is a wild plant who doesn't grow in the main avenue of the Israeli art but off the main road. She has her own path from which she defies the established Israeli art world. Like a Cupid, she sends her love arrows with a mischievous smile; when they hit a passerby the falling in love is instantaneous. Her paintings are filled with magic and humor. The unfamiliarity characterising them has an inexplicable attraction, similarly to the spell the wild has over the Westerner. In a sea of sounds that wraps around us, more pleasing or less, Ben-Nun‘s pure voice is echoed from the depths riddle- filled and unique, yearning for its own place in the world!

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