Sat 27 Apr 2013
I need to thank Mark Zuckerberg for my first encounters with Dina Bova. Via his wonderful and awful (whatever meaning you chose) Facebook I met a young Israeli artist who uses this social media in order to make known to the world her vision, her works and her achievements. She also allows us to follow her on the exhibitions road. I missed her previous exhibition in Israel at the Museum of Photography in Tel Hai, her next major appearance was in her native Moscow – a place that is still an un-reached dream for me, but this week she opened what I would call a significant exhibition just in my backyard, at the Weill Culture Center in Kfar-Shmaryahu. I visited the exhibition yesterday and I was impressed. Simply said – I am following as time allows all important exhibitions in the Israeli museums and galleries, and this is one of the best I have seen in the recent years.
Dina Bova is a 21st century surrealist, who lives in Israel, and uses digital photography as her principal mean of expression. If the combination seems a little bit … surrealist, we need to trace back this artistic current to the roots in the years 20 of the last century to find that no means of expression were excluded and the toolset of the Surrealists did comprise still photography and moving images (cinema) supplementary to the better known painting and poetry genres. Dina’s vision expands on the experience of the hiper-realists, as she uses photography (the art of catching the moment) in order to express the atemporal – allegories and dreams. One can feel in her works the melting pot of cultural and life experiences she was exposed to (she came to Israel at the age of 13) – the light and the landscape of Israel, the shades and deepness of the emotions of Russia. These are however only background elements, the strongest impression is made by her capacity of transforming imagination and concepts into striking and memorable visual experiences, her pleasure into playing with models and elements of scenery, and combining them into something new and different.
The name of the exhibition is ‘Truthful Fiction’ - gathering the best of her works in the last few years. In the best surrealist tradition the borders between reality and fiction, between truth and dream are blurred. The self portrait used for the poster of the exhibition is named ‘Break Through’ with no dash between the two words. A mirror, reflection of reality, is broken and its pieces used to create a different reality, the one of the artist.
Dina Bova does not seem to run away from controversy, from the need to shock and ask questions, even in her portraits.’The Man Who Laughs’ is far away from happily laughing.
Sometimes her characters are ‘Lost’ in a landscape that offers no means of orientation, or worse – false signs and symbols of direction or logic. Did you ever dream that you cannot find your way? that the doors you open go to nowhere?
Super-chef Israel Aharoni is the model for ‘Imaginarium’ and a few more works. I liked here the winter fantasy landscape, the magician seems to descend from the world of the circus I loved during my childhood, despite the rather desolated and frozen landscape his presence is re-assuring, there may be somebody in this strange universe who can control it.
The pleasure of playing infiltrates also the Biblical allegory of ‘Quo Vadis’ – a work built starting from a statue, quite different from most of the other where the concept is driving the image.
There is no playfulness or joy in ‘Memory of the Future’, another Biblical allegory, a somber Madonna with tears of blood, projected on another desolated landscape. And yet, there is love in her attitude.
‘Quaere Veritatem’ projects the Bibical theme in a satirical register. It is actually a DVD cover for the excellent rock band Orphaned Land – part of the cycle Mythology of ‘Orphaned Land’.
In the cycle of the allegories ‘Allegory of Cognition’ is one of the most visually striking works, and one of these that connect strongly with the ‘classical’ surrealist art style in painting.
I especially liked ‘Allegory of Hope’. My reading of the work is that achieving hope requires the strength and the will of fighting for it. The dark stormy skies can be vanquished by rainbow and the colored balloons, but this asks for the power of closing the eyes and living the dream.
‘Fears and Hopes’ connects past and future through the figure of the fragile pregnant woman. The staging of the work (not only of this one actually) reminded me Tarkovsky’s Stalker (the ultimate surrealist film in the Russian cinema?)
Last in my personal selection for this review is ‘Center of the Universe’. It’s a much more optimistic work, to some extend the continuation of the work above and of a few other with the pregnant woman in the center. The Child is born, and as so many of us know from our personal experiences, she or he becomes the Center of the Universe, the dance and celebration and joy around will eventually win over the stormy skies. It is the work that welcomes the visitor when entering the exhibition, and the last one he sees when departing it.
I have selected to write only about a few of the works in the exhibition. There are many more, and each deserves being viewed at its real dimension and asks for contemplation and thinking. Dina Bova is one of the best artists I have met lately on the Israeli art scene. I have maybe one regret and this is that this beautiful exhibition is not hosted by one of the central galleries in Tel Aviv, but I am sure that this will happen sooner than later. By the way, Kfar Shmaryahu is only 15 minutes away from Tel Aviv, the space in the Weil Center and the conditions of exhibiting are generous, and there is plenty of parking around. So – do not miss this exhibition!