‘Following Rina Mualem’s work ‘The Inner world of the Outer world of the Inner world’’

Observing the series of paintings by Rina Mualem disturbs the peace; they are accompanied by a strange feeling which is hard to forget even long after you have observed them. It seems to you that you become an unwilling party to the situation, trapped in kind of a maze. You are called to be a pundit, but this is not a known type of understanding or reading.

There is a mute block in the dense colorful screens made up of visual images which pass from one situation to another situation without a rational sequence of time and of place. It could be that they are not asking for interpretation, but for the look itself; visual texts which are painted on canvas that do not signify anything.
And yet, the paintings which stand individually each in its own right, form together a deceptive dimension which controls the actual space that surrounds the viewer. It is as if they are demanding from the observer a new observation, in the immediate space which is closest to him.

The line that isn’t a line and the stain which is not a stain
Since the 1970s Mualem has been maneuvering and diverting a complex set of images with figurative dimension on her artistic platform. Summarizing the fragmented elements and extreme style of imagery, led the critics to include her with the abstract concepts of Uri Reisman and Michael Gross (2). These elements and style were gradually replaced by decorative surfaces in which the images and the space are coordinated and fit one to the other in a repetitive infinite motion in space (3). The strength of Mualem’s work prior to the series of “The inner world of the outer world of the inner world” originates from a dense banal happening of lines, shapes, and colors, which Mualem leads in a strange mixture that guides into a thorny, broken, and clogged being which is obtained only after a deep observation of the paintings.

Mualem’s line is a continuous single point, which is moving forward with a certain hesitation as if trying to grant a living shape quivering to the images on the substrate. The images that were formed through an emphasis of hand movement do not insist upon telling a story, but instead they are a kind of encounter in space between animals, wheels, landscapes, heads, which are all subservient to a framework of schematic symbols of the substrate, the material.

Since the 1990s one can see in Mualem’s work an increase of visual components taken from actual stories of the world of media and applied to the painted substrate. The images which move in a uniform motion on the substrate become one unit in which the image, color, and substrate receive equal value. The mere fact of the image and the relationships which are formed between the color and the substrate are a testimony to the motion to the awakening, to the livelihood. The friction between them creates a movement towards an outcome but never an achieved outcome which creates a sequence of an ideal order which can never be realized.

Fragments of beauty
The culture and the layering of the compositions are evident in the series “The inner world of the outer world of the inner world”. Mualem creates a world of multiple time, multiple layers, a combination of contradictions, chaos, and reorganization of human conditions that Mualem is reluctant to define unequivocally. In a complex technique which incorporates into the substrate various fragments including processed images copied from thousands of photographs, which she collects in the virtual network, are also sketches with lines both hand engraved and pencilled. The real space of the painting becomes a kind of an emotional space, partly a memory, partly illusion, partly a dream, a stream of consciousness, projected on the work surface and in it operate the images objects and motifs (4). The parallel between the events and the images enables a powerful visual expression of a daily existence which lacks a clear narrative. The characters wrestle on the substrate and are held in life emitting a silent violence which generates them. Slowly, taking a deep breath, the characters repeatedly show a traumatic being of hidden reality obscured behind the space of visibility. Mualem’s work creates a demanding reality of the multi-voice, immediate, and sensual, leaving the viewer lacking of an order and with no possibility of escape.

The process of creation is the work of knitting endless weaving images and coordinates, colors and lines, it reveals and hides images which are called as one and answered in duplicate. The colorful excess, the toil, the density and sensual abundance that characterize the works, magnetize the viewer’s eye in effects of exquisite beauty and position Mualem’s works, among post-feminist trends which are prevalent in the international and domestic contemporary world of art. Mualem activates pleasurable sensual experience and renews concepts connected to beauty dug from the modernist discourse in general and local Israeli art discourse in particular (5).

The search for the symbol
Mualem’s images are aimed at the viewer’s intellectual layer and to its associative imagination. The characters, lines, and images are players in Mualem’s theater which are intertwined and separate and stand between the lines and brushstrokes to orderly qualities which follow an identifying logic, that describes and maps the contained details from which reality is challenged and made. It is as if Mualem produces the subversive logic from its own work processes. In such simultaneous ways, Mualem attempts to thicken their unknown meaning and to give them new life in the painting as familiar symbols.
Most of Mualem’s images are not artistic, cinematic, or even historical. The series which is built as an open text in which its elements are in a constant transition are dependent on the viewer and his perspective. In place of series of beings, the series offers an open weave of images and experiences which are not committed to any historical, scientific, political, ethical or aesthetic principles. The starting point of the thousands of images of Mualem is day-to-day happenings, a large mixture of images which are connected in a surrealist Dadaist -random and arbitrary- strategy. Mualem’s figures have no identity; neither Israeli nor Jewish, neither Sephardic nor Ashkenazi. Images without a language, without impossible longing or artistic quotation. Descriptions of daily life from the home and public space.

Mualem called her series of works “The inner world of the outer world of the inner world” which is one of the poems from a book by the same name written by one of the most prominent writers of German literature post World War 2, Peter Handke. The central character in the poem as in his plays, is undoubtedly the language, which is used as a first class intermediary between the inner world and the external world; this is expressed in the context of human consciousness. Using minimal literary and linguistic means, Handke exposes the tyranny of speech patterns, patterns of meaning, and fossilized behavior patterns of modern man. He illustrates how the automatic use of fixed frozen language patterns become structured formulas and cliches which build social cliches (7).

Written: Inbar Dror

1.Peter Handke “the inner world of the foreign world of the inner world” (1969) from Benjamin Harshav, modern poetry, a selection of translations, Am Oved Publishers, pp 381-386.
2.N. Tevet, “There is life next to Zaritsky”
3. S. Paran “Rina Mualem-Motti Mizrachi”, Gallery Conforti-Paran, June-July 1993.
4. See Krauss’s essay on Rauschenberg’s Space Reading
Rosalind Krauss’ “Rauschenberg and Materialized Image”, Artform vol / 13, no, 4, December 1974 pp
5. T. Katz-Friedman (2004), “God of small details” Over Craft Decoration and Biting Beauty (Cat. IMI.) Curator: Tami Katz Friedman, Art Gallery, University of Haifa.
6. This interpretation about Michal Neeman and Yair Garbuz, see Azoulay’s book (1999) “Art training, auditing museum economics, literature, meaning, and culture”, 27, The Israeli Institute for Poetics and Semiotics. Porter, Tel Aviv University, and Kibbutz Meuchad, p 189 206.
7. M. Perry (May 1997) “Exclamation Quarterly: 7: 195

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