Everything flows, everything moves – in the works of Yoram Back


By Dr. Nurit Cederboum

“You cannot step in the same river twice” said Heraclitus in order to reinforce his argument that the world changes and moves on – this was his sermon. In contrast, members of the Milesian school searched for permanence and inalterability underlying the manifold variety of natural phenomeana. One interpretation of Heraclitus’ phrase, relates to incessant movement and variation. Studying Back’s collection of works, one has a sense of movement and dynamism, like flowing water, an ephemeral state.

Although this is painting that freezes a particular situation, these paintings, give an impression of multi-dimensional movement. There is movement to the sides, outwards, from above and downwards and even in depth. The transparency of the colors, some of which are painted in aquarelle technique, speak of water through its own medium. The source for the production of this form is in the paint diluted with water, and hence also the multi-layered transparency, and liquidity; an atmosphere of water is created, both in form and material, and consequently also in content.

Back seems to observe the environment around him with an attentive eye, and paints the encounter between the internal and external landscapes that he sees, here on the mat of the painting. These potential materials constitute his source of inspiration. His personal eye observes the environment and interprets its forms and images through his inner eye, that which sees from inside out and from outside in.

The images in Back’s paintings appear and then fade away alternately. In this context too, everything flows, moving back and forth from inside to outside, emerging and hiding. For a moment, we notice an image, and then lose it as it gradually dies away into the mat of the paper and into the discourse of colors. Back treads in these paintings of his along the fine borderline between the figurative and abstract; with free flowing brush strokes, he begins with an image and then allows it to dissipate, later to become stains of color touching one upon another.

In Back’s paintings, we can identify the interesting encounter that evolves between freedom and discipline, between the place determined by him as the painter: its position, tone, amount, form of the color, and the place where he allows the color, the material, to have its own say. These are the places in which paint flows freely, as if the brush were liquefied, so that even in their randomness, they are not random. These are places where the painter allows the color a “free hand”, liberating it to create the boundaries and the point of encounter with another color by itself. This means that the stream process, the movement and the “everything is flowing” do not only produce the result that is apparent to the eye in the completed painting, but they are also part of the process of the growth of the work which retains the process in its final form. In this way, Back manages to create a sense of dynamic work, so that you can imagine that in another short moment it will actually continue to alter before your eyes.

Thus, we can see that although the field of painting is defined as the “art of space” in contrast to the field of literature which is defined as the “art of time”, these paintings deviate from the narrow definitions, and can definitely be positioned within the category of the “art of time”.

In his paintings, Back has no desire to portray photographic truth to his viewers. He observes his environment, examines it and presents the observer with his interpretation of these surroundings, whether this is a known, distinct physical environment or if it is a feeling and his personal statement regarding a particular environment – environment as environment. This body of works does not tell the story of a specific location, rather they create a new place. A place is born from the person who observes his environment, drawing inspiration from it and telling us about it in his way, through his personal filter, using his rich experience in painting, painting technique, and his awareness of his surroundings as an environment, as a world, as nature. Back’s paintings tell an alternative story about nature, nature around us and also his own nature as a painter.

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