Radiant color gushes from the vibrant work of Leah Meir

Dr. Nurit Cederboum

“When Nature begins to reveal her hidden secrets to a man, he feels an irresistible longing for her worthiest interpreter, Art.” said Goethe, intending to describe a man like himself, who experienced art as nature incarnate. Meir is one of those who experiences art in this animate way, a vivacity that flows from her to the canvas.

Meir’s artistic essence is brought into being on a white page, human scenery, internal vistas. It is futile to search for the particular landscape that Meir paints, since her paintings describe scenes from nowhere, although it may be said that they originate from outside as well as from inside.

On large formats that begin as empty colorless white, Meir fashions a new space for each painting. Landscapes that have no land or skies in the conventional sense, open to the four winds through the spread of color, halted sometimes by an enclosing line and bubbling out of the textures in which an internal form is created in sensitive nuances.

Color and its movements, color and its textures, color in all its variegated hues constitute the essence of Meir’s paintings, this is their radiance, this is also how they arouse the observer’s eye. Color, says Kandinsky, has two effects: firstly the purely physical effect (on the eye); no more than a superficial physical sense; and then as a result the second effect is produced – the mental effect. It is the combination of these two that awakens that essential mental vibration, through which color moves the soul.

Meir’s paintings emanate from the soul and this is why they move our souls, as can be understood from the name of her one-woman exhibition “depths of the soul” currently showing in the Amalia Arbel gallery. “Leah cries out to the canvas, screams at it, emotional. She lives the canvas, every ounce of her enters into it. Momentary emotion radiates from her, through her hand, the brush and the spatula, and finds its expression on the canvas, dressed in fierce colors and giddy movement abstract paintings. Strong. Other. Sometimes joyful, sometimes sad, sometimes serious, but always authentic and true” (Orit Galillee, 2011).

As can already be understood, in Meir’s paintings, “the medium is the message”. The story of the painting is not revealed to the observer’s eyes through familiar well-known images taken from external reality, rather it emerges through the language of color and the work of the color. It is the form that embodies the content, the implicit conveyed as an indivisible part of the explicit. Meir opens a small porthole into the workings of the unconscious soul, setting them free through blissful color, allowing the contents to float above the surface, garbed in scenes of now, scenes of somewhere. For, as Ahronzweig noted, a painting always involves a relationship between the surface soul and the deep inner soul. Meir’s painting is not simply a window for illusory reality; it is a window that invites one to peep in into the canvas itself, and from there to delve into the artist’s inner soul through observation of its physical features as an objet d’art.

On huge formats, Meir opens up a path into her inner world, an aperture that allows her to look inside, just as it allows the observer to look at her. We can observe areas of color formed from the artist’s inner discourse, mediated and implemented through the language of painting.

On one side of a sequence of interesting contradictions, one finds freedom, release and daring expressed in brush movements, in strokes of color, in the combination of materials, in the manner in which the color is placed, in the textures and volatile movement. This contrasts with quiet and reserve that call the painting to order and are expressed in the drawing of a single long horizontal or longitudinal line that break up the continuity and the flow. Or alternatively we find a quiet and minimalist painting in which structured shapes integrate one with another.

Meir’s paintings represent abstract painting, in one of them there is obviously written correspondence and a quotation relating to the father of abstract theory, Kandinsky. It is as if Meir is trying to tell us through her paintings what Kandinsky understood, that “each shape and each color has its own inner melody”. Meir creates compositions; these are the melodies for her paintings in which she plays on the soul’s chords with a brush and paint.

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