Avital Burg and Ester Schneider present “Moments of Waking Up”, a two-person exhibition, opening on November 18 at Arts at AJU in Los Angeles, and curated by Rotem Rozental, Director at the Institute for Jewish Creativity. We are proud to have supported this project through our Small Grants Program. Below, Avital discusses some of the works in the show, and her creative process.
At their core, my paintings observe the relationships between light and darkness as they unfold in the world. I am in constant search for inventive ways to bring these relations onto canvas. The compositions are based on an array of visual references, such as a cardboard model that I built, a 15th century Dutch painting, a newspaper clipping, or the peeling brick wall that I have in my studio. The stories behind these visual references often help me to conceive paintings. Here are some of the stories:
A king wanted to build himself a grand palace on a stony hill. While dreaming this up, he couldn’t believe that while the workers would dig out the rocks for the foundations of his palace, they would find a spring of fresh water. He could not even consider that instead of his well-guarded palace he would use the water to plant trees and grass for all his people to enjoy. Instead of the high brick walls that were supposed to be built on these foundations, people would wander freely through the beautiful garden that he planted for them.
The flower shop is too far away from the studio. They are also too pricey, and do not have a good variety. That’s when I discovered the beautiful array of wild flowers that were growing in many empty lots and abandoned garages around the edges of my neighborhood, next to my studio. These flowers were probably here before us, and they will remain here for many years, for many more rounds of gentrification. And yet, when I pick them and keep them in water, they quickly begin to die. Therefore, I have to paint rapidly, and to find new flowers every day of the summer.
Saint Barbara was so beautiful that her father locked her up in a tower to shield her from the outside world. In solitude, gazing out to the landscape, she began believing in God. When her father built a private bathhouse for her, she had the builders carve out three windows in its walls, to signify the trinity. After many miracles and mishaps, she was executed for being a Christian, by the hands of her own father. In many of her depictions she is holding on to a miniature version of her tower in her hands, and in some, she’s doing so while stepping on her father’s body.
Curator Rotem Rozental, in her curatorial description explains, “Both Burg and Schneider perceive themselves primarily as painters, and yet their collaborative dialogue emerges from a desire to explore three-dimensional space and the changing capacities of the materials that have come to define their work. Avital Burg’s layered canvases, thick and dripping with paint, create lush environments that exist almost in relief. On the verge of sculpture, they attempt to reach out into the gallery space, to engage directly with Schneider’s work. Whereas Burg seeks and excavates the topography of remnants and residues of her canvases and palettes, Schneider explores ready-mades that are reminiscent of gestures of paintings. Fringe, human hair, and synthetic peacock feathers coalesce with miniature drawings, becoming the source materials for imagined architectural formations. Her site-specific wall pieces and installations expand from their point of origin to flow across the gallery, forming a sculptural space in which logic is subjected to the forces of idealized fantasies.”