Mogli – Preview

Mogli

A twilight statue garden in the back of a villa, refugees of a natural disaster as though exiles from an episode of Survival, orthodox Jews in flames on roof-tops, temporary camps of tiger hunters, an assault on a sunny day; these and other small stories are combined with landscape paintings full of surrealist happenings possessing their own internal eclectic language.  Ben Ben-Ron, in a new series of paintings from the years 2006-8, presents painted postcard-like revelations which contain symbolic associative spaces, combining the old with the new, the impure with the holy.

This series of painting was made while I lived in India  for 2 years.

Mogli – Images

tigerhunters

Tiger Hunters   Oil on canvas   51x78cm   India 2006 /

woodblues1

woodblues  Oil on Canvas  50x70cm  2006 /

mogli

Mogli  Oil on canvas    53x84cm    India 2006 /

cassle

Cassle  Oil on canvas   53x85cm   India 2006 /

Survival the first season    Oil on canvas   60x85cm    India 2006 /

House of god

House of God   Oil on canvas   61x80cm    India 2006 /

Refugees

Refugees  Oil on canvas   70x50cm   India 2006 /

Forest

The Transperent Forest   Oil on canvas   50x70cm    India 2006  /

After party

After party   Oil on canvas  80x63cm   India 2006 /

Attack on summer day

Attack on a summer day   Oil on canvas   84x52cm   India 2006 /

Accident in moon light   oil on canvas   70x50cm   India 2006 /

Friendly takeover

Friendly take over  Oil on canvas   58x73cm   India 2007 /

Garden

Garden   Oil on canvas   58x73cm   India 2007 /

After rain

After rain   Oil on canvas   63x88cm   India 2007 /

songs from the wood

Songs from the wood   Oil on canvas   100x170cm   2007 /

Spring    Oil on canvas   80x120cm   India 2008 /

Old age

Old age   Oil on canvas  60x90cm   2008 /

India Oil on canvas  60x90cm   2008

רותי דירקטור / הצופה / למקור

תחנה 3: בן בז’רנו (בן רון). המפתיע ושובה הלב במסלול הציור הוא הציור של בן בז’רנו (בן רון). לא קשור לאופנה, אלא במובהק לעולם פנימי, משלו. הציורים צוירו בשנתיים האחרונות, חלקם בהודו וחלקם בעקבות זכרונות מהודו. הפורמטים בינוניים, שמן על בד, הסצנות סיפוריות, הצבעוניות עזה, פנטזיה נוסח “מאה שנים של בדידות” מציפה את הציורים. כל ציור הוא סיפור בפני עצמו, לא בהכרח ניתן לפענוח קוהרנטי: בתים ואנשים, בעלי חיים ויערות. ג’ירפה עומדת ברחוב מוצף גשם, בין בתים קולוניאליסטיים מקסימים, על אחד מהם שלט ורוד של קוקה קולה (“אחר גשם”); צבועים קופצים על מיטה בורוד ואדום; ציפורים בשלל צבעים מרחפות מעל עצים בצורת קונוס, מאחוריהם שמים כתומים-צהובים (“השתלטות ידידותית”); קבוצת אנשים רוקדים במעגל על דשא ירוק, מוקף עצים וחיות, כאילו-פסטורלה כאילו-אימפרסיוניסטית (“אביב”). והמוזר מכל: יהודים לובשי שחורים, פיאות, זקנים וכל השאר, עומדים על גגות אדומים של בית העולה בלהבות (“בית אלוהים”). אירועי בית חב”ד במומביי ממחישים שלעיתים המציאות משיגה את הדמיון, ובכל זאת הסצנה משונה להפליא. שאגאל בגירסה הודית? אידיליה רוחנית ניו אייג’ית בסגנון נאיבי-סיפורי? אלא שהציור לא בדיוק נאיבי ולא בדיוק אימפרסיוניסטי, אבל  ממש גם לא ציני או סרקסטי. השם “מוגלי” מייצר את ההקשר החמוד של “ספר הג’ונגל”, ילד טבע אקזוטי וכו’, אבל הציורים עצמם בוראים מרחב שמכיל לצד סממנים של אידיליה מחוץ לציביליזציה גם נוכחות ודאית מאיימת (הצבועים, למשל, הם מעין השלכה חיצונית לשדים פנימיים) ואימה קיומית כללית. אגדה ופנטזיה, לא כולל נחמדות. מרבית הציורים אינם מצוירים עד קצות השוליים, כך שנוצרת מסגרת פנימית לכל ציור. זה מעצים את מראה הצילום הממוסגר, כלומר זיכרון רחוק, וגם את הקירבה לאיור בספר ילדים ולפיכך שובר את האשלייתיות של התיאור המצויר. סיפורים, מיתולוגיות פרטיות, טעם מר-מתוק, ובייחוד ציור שמעביר עולם משלו

גליה יהב / טיים אאוט / דצמבר 2008 למקור

Postcard-Revelations / Michal Ben-Naftali

On Mowgli, a series of paintings by Ben Bejerano(Ben-Ron)

“It seems he looked at everything that was inside of him, and from here this whole series of suns and more suns in the sunlight.”

— Gauguin

 

This is the place I find difficult to leave.  You do not believe you will ever be able to say goodbye, have the strength to leave.  You are fixed firmly, fearful, to the car that takes you far away, like a boy grasping his childhood blanket or standing close to a parent.  You feel that this cannot be taken from you.  What cannot be taken?  Tell me.  You cannot tell.  You know it will not come back, not like this, not in this state; not in this time dimension.  What won’t come back?  Tell me.  The same silence, the silence you collected there, like one accumulates property, like matter.  The same silence that stands from now on between you and things, the same nothing, the same barrier, the same something that lurks and surrounds you, intimate and transparent like an invisible rift.  You know; it stifles your grasp and compresses it and shadows it at the same time.

At first glance the “Something” became a postcard, a pretty object revealing a painted landscape, written for all to see.  Ben-Ron presents a series of postcard landscapes, revelations, enlarged and detached, focused and laconic, readable and encoded.  The painted code is that of a postcard, and what looks like a wounded intimacy, like an overly explicit declaration of love, too familiar, too exhilarating, too harmonious, revealed as a compressed concoction of details belonging to different domains of experience and subject to a surreal law of physics, levelling fluid matter.  The sweetening ethics of the postcard, the innocence or purity supposedly camouflage all catastrophe, neutralise all trauma and refine the disaster zones, these collapse when the postcard becomes total as though it were an experience of life-art.  Postcard-monster.  The beautiful becomes a kind of defiance, a glorification that does not hide its flaws.

Scattered miniature characters, sunken into themselves, their heads buried in the sand, or looking aside, turning to some far-away somewhere, with their back to us [“Assault on a Sunny Day” 2006].  No connection between them.  Men, women, children, without distinction, faceless.  One of the paintings called “Refugees” [2007], but all them subject to family-lessness, desocialization; wandering helpless, slow wondering movement, inertia from neglect.  The external is external is external, it is the portrait of the world as homeless.  And he who conducts the scene, large and absurd, animal, devil’s creation, or a state of nature taking place all of the time to move people from their place, casting his shadow on them, invoking his laws, and prescribing a rhythmic ceremony, it is he alone that makes the face expressive, human. The drama is humanely modified, but the face does not lose its widowhood.  Its tangibility is gleaned from the composition, the story and all that happens on the surface.  Aesthetics of the landscape have always presented a space of subjective hallucination.  Yet here, it does not accompany the portrait as though it were a symbolic space tied to a drawn image and reflecting it.  Here it is the portrait itself.

Existential questions arise in all their power in the gap between one hygiene and another, moving from one house to the next, from town to town, exile to exile.  Thus we discover the historicity of hygiene and the cracks it presents or covers for, as the unstable basis on which it leans.  This externality I do not recognise, despite the concreteness of the candid story.  And not because the details of chaos are foreign.  The language of involvement are foreign.  As though the distinct language of involvement is saying: beauty is beauty, ugliness is ugliness, good is good, bad is bad, cruel and pointed tautologies oppose their glory, against a culture of oppositions, differentiations, and distancing.  They proudly cross a threshold of familiarity, and at this exact moment, when there is no language for the mixture, when the kitsch is transformed from a scorned aesthetic to an ontology, they become foreign.  You lose touch.  It is always possible to try and recreate the story, it is a narrative painting of sorts.  But similarly, when the border between the impure and the holy is crossed, the story is not enough.  It is not enough to ease the discomfort.

Ben-Ron increases the act of hybridization among different species.  He begins by creating a colourful mixture of periods and artistic sensitivities – figurative realism, impressionistic colour gestures, naïve drawing, surrealist foundations that feed from the baroque and the romantic, Dadaist energy.  Every painting-revelation combines a plethora of heterogeneous elements, connected through different structures of causality: magnification through diminution, mimetic relations, randomality of ‘accidents’ or ‘assaults’, fateful determinism.  The thin grass that accumulates through frantic brush-strokes, climbs to the skies and dissolves like a stream pouring into the ocean which merges fragments of experience into a unified and harmonic chain.  There is no point of origin or aftermath, no earlier or later, no single centre that focuses the gaze, but a multiplicity of centres organised in an associative plane, responding to a unique syntax.  The series creates a context of its own both to the sensual perception and to the creation of meaning, and the lack of correspondence between the world outside the series and the world it creates weakens the historical-political claim for true meaning.  The names Ben-Ron selected for his paintings strengthens this impression, names that transform the existing meaning of words.  “Refugees”, “Victim”, “Accident”, “Assault” – where are they? What do they mean?  What are they other than the internal echoes of the elements replicating in different orders of magnitude, up to complex bonds between the human and the animal, the animal and the cosmic?  So, for instance, in “Assault on a Sunny Day”: everything standing tensely, the dog, the two-legged birds, people, the electric pole; like a row of flagpoles, vertical objects, the boy’s arms raised to the sky, the arms of the men and woman hanging down.  Everyone watching what is happening on the other side of the painting: that is where the drama is.  The drama is in the horizon.  The hidden grid of the postcard builds the vertical and horizontal coordinates of the human condition.  Thus, what is called “Assault” or “Accident”, “Refugee” or “Victim” or whatnot, is represented in the language of the image, a language that is not our common language, a language whose semantic values culminate in a systematic lexis of coherence.  However, the meanings are not embodied only in the relations within each painterly unit.  They exist also, even primarily, in the links between the Revelations.

 

But what surrounds me is not only the language you created in order to bequeath.  A tight-knit mantle of colour, sensual, commanding the painting like a contemplative space.  The colour becomes a causal force of its own, a force that makes the multiple areas of experience a single continuous space.  Primary colour, pure, as though working against clear definitions.  Abstract colour, autonomous, that does not fulfil each mimetic role.  It is rather the same non-figurative moment, that gesture of de-figuration, that makes the Revelation intimate.  The yellow of the sunflowers is enhanced; it begins with a soft rhythmic brush-stroke, and is followed by demanding excess; dry brittle yellow or whitish-yellow ascending like haze [“Refugees” 2007]; watery yellow diluting what is solid, or the glaring brightness in the illuminated light.  It is the source of light and the origin of the light that is taken.  It changes the physical light into the metaphysical sublime, like a burst of vitality, and it fogs the scenery into an all-encompassing shroud.  This is the concealed light of the Revelation, as though we have turned it inside out.  As though we truly read it.

AGE OF INNOCENCE / By: Galia Yahav

Timeout Tel-Aviv / 2008

At first glance, Ben Ben-Ron’s exhibition looks like it could belong in the GINA Gallery (Gallery of International Naïve Art); in other words, naïve art which responds to codes that potentially define this genre: pictureliness as a value; pastoral rural or urban life, harmonious colourful imagined, with figures and miniature animals who spend their time pleasantly; an entertaining and comforting ideological foundation leans on the fiction of childhood as a time without want.  The artistic design is clearly made in the style encoded as ‘childlike’ that was privileged in the previous century as the litmus test for authenticity, honesty, and openness.  Ben-Ron’s painting even contains a pinch of that same style which includes not eruptive automatism but careful, like religiousness attributed to the artist, which in turn elevates the role of art in society.  In short, humanist folklore.

However, that lukewarm bland puree called ‘humanism’ amongst enthusiasts of naïve art, becomes with Ben-Ron a nightmare vision precisely because the assumptions of the work and of the paintbrush are supposedly akin to that same folk entertainment which has so little in common with art in the serious senses of the term.  The critical difference is in the key code distinguishing between ambitious art and that which pretends to be or even objects to ambitious art as though to a lie – self awareness.  Ben-Ron draws dreamy mise-en-scènes that resolve into nightmares precisely because they reveal the El-Doradean existence they contain, and because they expose it as an ideological mask that seeks to subjugate, under the guise of solace (as, historically, did all the ideologies which opposed intellectual challenges facing them).  Neither a lawyer nor an international tradesman are needed to explain why this metaphysics should be condemned.

“The painted code is that of a postcard,” writes Michal Ben-Naftali in the excellent text accompanying the exhibition, “and what looks like a wounded intimacy, like an overly explicit declaration of love, too familiar, too exhilarating, too harmonious, revealed as a compressed concoction of details belonging to different domains of experience and subject to a surreal law of physics, levelling fluid matter.”

The self-awareness, the doubt and the suspicion, they are what lie at the base of the interrupted intimacy that is also created through the name of the exhibition, Mowgli.  The mute jungle boy is the conductor Ben-Ron uses in order to create the image of a world, a civilisation that is bleeding, disconnected, full of fears and tension, whimpers and cries, fires and violence; an image piercingly confronted head-on through its own emergent design, convincingly gaining power.  Ben-Ron uses the figure of Mowgli as representative of absolute childlike-ness (he is both young and lives in the forest, outside culture), to testify to naivety as an imagined value, a dangerous illusion.  “The sweetening ethics of the postcard, the innocence or purity supposedly camouflage all catastrophe, neutralise all trauma and refine the disaster zones, these collapse when the postcard becomes total as though it were an experience of life-art.  Postcard-monster.  The beautiful becomes a kind of defiance, a glorification that does not hide its flaws.”, writes Ben-Naftali.

Ben-Ron succeeds in exposing the hollow mask of pretension through a Gauguin-like ‘planting’ of different semantic registers in the same plane, in a way that shatters the continuity and the illusion of a homogeneity lacking subconsciousness and libido; the barren scheme so passionate to fear nothing, knows nothing.  By way of this, the ignorance is also exposed, as ideology, as a hegemony of denial.  In the painting “Spring”, a harmless forest celebration can be seen, alive with dancing and animals, and on the side stands a man wearing the mask of a jester.  Unravelling the realistic possibility of this scene immediately transforms it into a piece of fantastic-realism struck by disaster.  In the painting “After the Rain”, a giraffe strolls along a street segment, rich with vegetation and framed by verandas, an image that turns the seemingly unproblematic notion of rain into a primal deluge, or a private vision of the collapse of an entire era.  In the painting “Survivors” we can see a group of people standing in the swampy entrance to the forest, their car nearly submerged and on it, the body of a woman lies in an unnatural pose.  Some of them watch, one woman carries a towel, a man uses a hoe.  The relation between the figures is unclear and their odd activities are disconnected from what is happening.  Even the remaining paintings, “Accident in Moonlight”, “Assault on a Sunny Day”, “Refugees”, and others, all expose what the style seeks to hide – “a portrait of the world homeless”, in Ben-Naftali’s words.  The street is not neighbourly but dangerous, the forest conceals marshy swamps, the various Spanish structures are too easy to bear, verging on collapse like an ideological house of cards, the colourful vultures full of accusation, and the people are pawns or the fire that they spit in the after-party a fire-scream of an after-party they did not enjoy.  The scenes become seeped with violence, wild, grotesque, and full of anonymous standby-ers (as opposed to Mowgli, the missing hero), they have an apocalyptical rage which sketches an artistic portrait that contends with the regulating mechanisms of creation and surpasses them.  With Ben-Ron, the artistic overcomes style with the bravery of he who is drowned in a sea of love, gurgles in his throat and gags from a saccharined sentimentality, and insists on the complexity of language as a way to save the life.