Between Hope and Despair

Yaffa Wainer

In this exhibition, Yaffa Wainer explores the image of the olive tree.

She studies the tree and paints and sketches it in many ways, from various angles and in varying sizes and colors.

Yaffa's interest in the olive tree stems from its Israeli and Mediterranean nature and the fact that it is a distinct cultural mark – a symbol of rootedness and territoriality, a concept that encourages one to reflect on its physical and metaphorical position in Israel’s contemporary setting and on complex political identity.

Yaffa's olives tree do not hang. They stand strong, grounded. They have a charged meaning, bearing a history of thousands of years. Using bold brush strokes or delicate lines of black ink on white paper, she draws the beautiful olive tree, which is one of the seven species that the Land of Israel was blessed with and represents peace and light. The endless work and repetitive treatment of olive trees represents the internal journey on which the artist has embarked.

The many representations of olive trees in the sketches and paintings, and the tree stumps and tree reproductions on Perspex in the art installations draw the observer into the personal, subjective journey of the artist, and into a collective journey which is saturated in emotions and is strongly linked to the rooted, positive Israeli character, as well as its rugged, cracked and painful qualities. 

Yaffa was born in Herzliya, where she lives today.

She studied art at the Open University, art classes in Tel Aviv University, the Midrash Art Academy of Ramat HaSharon, and she has worked with several Israeli artists.

When living in the Philippines (1996-1998), Yaffa studied under the renowned Filipino painter Roger San Miguel, and painted nature and scenery. She has participated in numerous exhibitions in Israel and abroad. 

Orit Lutringer



“And the sea does not cease to reverberate” through the brush strokes of Yaffa Wainer

Dr. Nurit Cederboum

In Yaffa Wainer’s paintings the sea surges, fumes, kicks, and dashes towards its shore. Glancing quickly at the paintings, the observer feels as if they themself are borne on the waves hurrying towards the beach, and perhaps one could say, even flirting with it.

In Wainer’s paintings I identify a sort of love affair between the sea and the shore. The sea lunges with furious waves to its brink, caressing and stroking the beach that looks as if it was yearning for the moments of this encounter. The points of encounter between the water and the sand are, I believe, the focus, a sort of physical and conceptual vanishing point. The voyage of the waves on the one side running all the way from the horizon, spaces of beach on the other side stretching out to reach that fascinating / OR tantalizing/ OR enticing meeting point with such obvious joy in/ OR through the spread of the paint.

Weiner observes nature - on this occasion it is one of nature’s giants – the sea, and in line with the practice of the impressionist painters, in her own unique way, she follows the hours of light, from the bright sunrise of the morning hours until the dusky evening hours. She watches natural phenomena, sunrise, sunset, light, the ebb and flow of the tide and they act as her guide, directing her moments of observation. And like the expressionists, Wainer makes no attempt to present the observer with photographic truth, or an accurate description, a replication of the reality. Wainer sees the reality with its data as potential, as an inspiration and then represents her personal interpretation of it in her paintings. Daring brush strokes, textures, color choices, structure, bold use of colors; she makes all these decisions as an artist and uses them to tell her personal tale/ OR as an artist she uses this choice of techniques to tell her personal tale – what the sea means for her, who her sea is.

As part of her occupation with nature painting, Weiner’s choice of the sea as the subject for her painting, is employed to make a statement; the sea as the subject of internal and external observation. The external landscape serves as a platform for this observation and for the description of a conscious and unconscious internal landscape. According to Jung water symbolizes emotions and the depths of the mind. It is considered to be a female element and is associated with the Great Mother archetype, birth and the Universal Womb. By its very nature water is one of the most prevalent symbols for man’s emotional dimension. Like the water, emotions are continually in a process of change. Wainer chooses the sea, expressing its power and using it to indicate her internal emotional movement.

Thus too, her choice of the sea as the subject for her paintings involves the use of color as symbols, charged with meaning. The blue – sky blue or sea blue represents an additional statement poised on the borderline between the conscious and unconscious mind. In the world of symbols, blue represents meditation, observation and spiritual awakening, and when one observes the color through a picture of water and skies, it expresses the depths, the color of the feminine water element are absorbed.

Thus, we learn that even when an artist chooses some kind of external reality, this constitutes a metaphor and platform that says something about the artist themself; and from within their self the artist looks out on the external reality, turning it over and over and then representing their interpretation of it to the observer and also to themself and thus extending the existing reality. The colorful encounters between the complementary colors – orange and blue – represent the ample contrasts between sea and land, between textures, between movement and calm, between quiet and storm, between light and shade, light and dark, warm and cool colors. These contrasts create tension and interest and display the manifest encounter between sea and land as a powerful encounter – the power of nature, resembling the power of the spirit of the artist, who has chosen to represent it in this way.

I conclude by returning to my opening thoughts. Beaches, I would say in a poetical vein, often long for the sea. In this series of paintings I have primarily discerned the yearning of the wave for the shore, or the ebb and flow of the wave. It seems to me that the way in which the wave embraces the beach is in fact an act of almost erotic love in which the wave spreads over the beach after a nostalgic quest, caressing and being caressed, and these two, the verge of the beach and the verge of the wave, interact, the one disintegrating and the other restraining/ OR containing the skies and the sea and the expanses of sand. Wainer’s painting contains a storm of emotions with serenity, expanses and a point of contact, movement and calm, and a beach that eternally waits for “the sea that does not cease to reverberate”.

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