“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Isaiah 9:1) – Between Order and Chaos
Wild brushstrokes, etchings in layers of paint, and winding lines conduct a conversation with the stains of color, dark brown black colors entangled one with another and between them bits of light beam through. Flashes. Textures created by the processing of material, paint and grains of sand. The division of the canvas with horizontal, vertical and curved lines. Sometimes a familiar image appears in the form of a wall, stone, house or tree. Always a single solitary image’s presence, that seems to have gone missing.
All these describe the tension between chaos and order, between wild nature and calm nature, between a living flourishing place and a barren sun-scorched place. These are lines that scratch the canvas surface-paint-painting as if they were scratching the soul or alternatively outlining it.
These are paintings in which it is possible to hear the silence and also the stormy wind, and simultaneously to sense its fluctuations. This is abstraction that undertakes responsibility, that knows itself, seeming to say “I am an abstract painting, but I know that you know that I am a certain landscape, in some particular place”, for as already mentioned, in the moment that it appears on the canvas, that same nowhere becomes a place.
The atmosphere of these paintings conveys a sort of yearning, longings, and also at the same time fear of the storm. It seems that Alkalay, who has specialized in views of the sea in all its vicissitudes, from calm to quiet to stormy, transfers the movement of the sea and the waves onto other landscape surfaces where she allows them to act like the sea. To rise, to aspire to reach the skies, so that the gorges and valleys roll over each other like waves, a process described by the philosopher and poet Rabindranath: “hills are the earth’s gesture of despair for the unreachable.”
Alkalay places familiar images that unsettle the serenity of the landscapes’ wastelands and disturb the anonymity that resides in them. A boat – a tree – the roof of a house – or a sealed wall reminding us that man is involved; man who draws maps and geological sketches found in the regions of his mind. Alkalay sets out on an internal quest, investigating the hidden channels of the soul, and their vicissitudes, and consequently her paintings are none other than the records of her quest.
Dr. Nurit Cederboum
What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou fleddest?” (Psalm 114) – Material and Spirit
“The sea within me” (Alkalay) rises above its banks and overflows, spreading over the painting canvas in all directions. There are large colored surfaces where it seems that nothing actually happens, yet the eye wanders over them and cannot find a dull moment. The sea arena is a song of the sea, a whispered song of the waves, of the soul folded between the touches of paint that blend softly one into another. This is a monochromic reality infiltrated by pastel tints and semi-tints, and textures disperse and burst forth as if they had grown out of the canvas together with the ravages of time. The sea is sand, a textural material and the sand is sea.
In this body of works the entire painting is sea and sky each reflected in the other along its length and breadth. The sea serves as a source of inspiration, a sample of sea and sky, not distinguishing “the waters that were under the firmament from the waters that were above the firmament” (Genesis 1). These are hazy seascapes in the style of Turner, depicting reflections, a soft cloudiness and mist; the hinted froth of the waves soaring upwards and the softness of the clouds descending, blending borderless one into the other. The sea that is created on the canvas, takes the form of a new nature, infinite expanses of quiet sea that flow in all directions, overflowing their banks from canvas to canvas and becoming parts of the synergetic whole.
Division of the area follows the approach of the Reisman landscapes; Uri Reisman, who advocates this approach, says: “Don’t tickle the canvas, a painting is constructed on colored surfaces”. Thin and sensitive transitions form depth and height. Abstraction is derived from reality that leaves its traces. A covert horizontal line suggests a horizon, curving lines mark the meeting point between land and sea, sand and water. Additional objects such as a structure, house, tree, figure, bird, the sun, are flooded with Israeli light, which is cold, white, light blue, light gray infused with glittering tones of green and purple. It is quiet, there are no storms in the sense of “the calm after the storm” (Alkalay).
Dr. Nurit Cederboum
and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance” (Isaiah 40:12) – As the heat of the day as the heat of the canvas
In the series of works called “As the heat of day” the color yellow that is poured into the gorges between the hills, into the paths and on the hills, dries the cracked earth, that Alkalay describes as “a rugged land”, “a tough land”, “a scorching land”. In the body of works in this series the artist throws pitchers of burning color on the landscapes she creates. This may be an expression of her desire to “moisten” the harsh earth, or to describe in layers of color, etched with a pencil, knife and trowel the “erupting emotional lava” that streams out from within her (Alkalay).
In the body of works displayed in the “Remembered Views” exhibition, Alkalay depicts a landscape that begins with a memory hidden within her. An entire world of coves, valleys, hills, wadis, earth and sky are organized within her memory to become a landscape of some “place” – nowhere, anywhere – that becomes located on the broad dimensions of the canvas. The expanses of this landscape resemble the expanses of the soul or as Uri Reissman’s landscapes were described “paintings of the soul”.
The external physical landscape that exists in her surroundings, accompanies her, is absorbed inwards within her and is revealed later as pictures of the soul. A sort of mirror image, in the enigmatic language of form, color, stain, light, line and all the possible encounters that exist between these elements. “An emotional outburst of crises rise and fall, ruts and bends – unknown forces leap outwards from within and vice-versa” (Pollack & Biran, 2008). Conflicting colors – red brown lava, smoky colored sky and a yellow orange lane. This is not the color used by the photographer who transmits a documentation of a particular view in a particular place. This is the language of color that tells the tale of the place and of the soul through rich materialism.
In this body of works one can distinguish a dichotomy between development and liberty and what is closed and structured, abstract expressiveness contrasting with naturalist image, some sort of landscape contrasting with still life, Turner in opposition to Cezanne, order and disorder, reality and imagination. Perhaps another surrealistic suggestion. This is Alkalay’s “Land of Milk and Blood”. Against surfaces of scorching and stormy land, between hills or on the line of the horizon between sky and land, float images of the fruit with which our land has been endowed. The pomegranate symbolizes both “honey” and “blood”.
Still life paintings, fruit on a mat of the land, where the wild and erupting abstract landscape can also be read as a tablecloth with its folds or a map of Israel with its crevices and strata. A bunch of pomegranates on a black and blue background seems like a terrible scream accompanied by erupting volcanic lava and these are all borne on the wings of an eagle.
A romantic painting is a modern painting. Thus said Baudelaire. In his opinion, romanticism is intimacy, spirituality, color, an aspiration for infinity conveyed through all the means available to art. Color, in the important role that it plays in modern art, bears these values, and it can therefore be said that modern art is romantic.
Dr. Nurit Cederboum