Steeped in the mysticism of the Jewish Year, an exhibition of Dora llolzhandler’s art explores the compassion behind religious labels. The 66-year-old london-based artist explains why her work goes beyond the Jewish festivities that patterned herchﬂdhood.
‘I wanted to talk to people about compassion and love - the things I’ve discovered in life and the things that matter. l’m Jewish, but what I want to say is not really about one religion, it’s about all religions. l have always been very mystical and love all religions — I suppose I’m a Buddhist as well.
‘These paintings are my memories. I was born in Paris to Polish-Jewish parents, but the first live years of my life I spent with Catholic foster parents in Normandy. My parents were not very well off and I was fostered in the country. When I got back, what struck me straight away was the mystical quality of the Jewish religion. Otherwise, it might iust have been part of my childhood.
‘I came to England when l was six- years-old, but Jewishness is very special. it didn’t in those days change much from country to country.
“I’ve been called a naive artist, I suppose because I paint a lot of colours and details. I’m influenced by Jewish traditional art, which is like Persian miniatures. If you look at Jewish manuscripts, there’s an oriental tradition. I’ve been painting for about 50 years, since I was a child. I’m not just a Jewish artist, but it’s a subject I like. A lot of the paintings in this exhibition are from private collections.
‘l’m a great grandmother. All my children and their children are Jewish, because it goes through the Jewish mother. My husband is not Jewish, so I don’t keep to the festivals in one sense, but It’s very near.’ (Kathleen Morgan)
To Life! The Jewish Year In The Art of ﬂora llolzhandler is at the St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art until 26 March 1995.
_ Young blood
With a reputation for putting the best work from Britain’s art schools up in lights, the ET New Contemporaries exhibition is in Scotland. Gill Roth takes a look.
it was launched in I949 as Young Contemporaries — a showcase for the creative blood ﬂowing from Britain’s art schools. From Frank Auerbach in the early years to David Hockney and more recently. Damien Hirst. the careers of many UK artists have burgeoned after exhibiting under its banner
Renamed BT New Contemporaries. this year the annual exhibition represents the work of 36 students and recent graduates from UK art schools. They are judged the cream of I200 applications by a panel including Turner Prize winner Rachel Whiteread.
You‘d expect a show like this to be diverse and the variety of the work is one of the ﬁrst things to hit you. There are lots of ideas and plenty going on. Noisy video monitors compete for attention with garish. plastic Wendy houses and the complete hand-written transcription of the ﬁlm Red October.
Painting, videos. installations and photography are all represented. But
Hadrian Piggott’s ‘llysfunction 1994’
although at first glance there seems to be nothing linking one piece to another. on closer inspection the connections are quite striking. This is the work of young people -— childhood. parents, humour and the media are all strong inﬂuences and a rich source of inspiration to be interpreted and dissected. In choosing to make work about their own lives and immediate past they have produced work that is conﬁdent and convincing.
Ruth Farrington‘s photographs of her parents are stiff and carefully posed. Her Mum and Dad seem like willing props put into position by their daughter who is in total control. In one photograph she has them walking hand in hand through the woods in a pose reminiscent ofthe innocent Startrite
kids in the nostalgic children's shoe ads.
Domestic and decorative objects are used with a sometimes wicked sense of humour and irony. Anita Ronkes broom sheathed in Hermes silk cleverly combines exclusivity and drudgery with a knowing wit. It's a desirable object that wouldn‘t look out of place in Harrods. Milo Garcia is obviously a bit of a practical joker. His display of tables. chairs. glasses and cutlery seems innocent enough until the chairs start moving swiftly away from the table as ifan invisible diner is doing a runner from a restaurant. Terry Loane‘s glossy. bright photograph of two tacky nodding dogs in a kitsch gold frame takes silly, non-functional objects and endows them with a sense of importance. But it also makes you realise how much senseless nodding we all do in everyday conversation.
()ne of the most interesting pieces is Hadrian Pigott‘s white. pod-shaped sinks. They look like hard ceramic but are carved entirely in soap and fitted with stainless steel taps and plug holes. Titled [Ivy/interim they could be a comment on society‘s obsession with cleanliness. whiteness and purity. But they are especially pleasing because they are delicate and beautifully made objects.
Over all. the BT New Contemporaries comes across as refreshingly low on bullshit and high on entertainment. It is characterised by humour and honesty and a surprising lack of arty. high brow nonsense.
I}! New Coniemporuries is at The F ruitmurket Gallery. Edinburgh until 12 November: See art listings.
:— Mixed blessings
To draw an analogy with the similarly fickle world of pop, the follow-up to that llo 1 bit has always been notoriously tricky - just ask Joe llolce. The same is true in the case of the three-part exhibition New Art In Scotland. After the gushing reviews that greeted Part I, where the predominant medium was painting, Part II is bound to rufer a few feathers with its accent on less conventional media such as ice- cream, neon, sound and scent.
By employing such media, the term ‘sculpture’ is stretched to its furthest point of interpretation. It may also be the exhibition’s limitation In terms of attracting only seven artists, thus diminishing the overall impact.
The first two exhibits by Judith Spark and Sandrine Rummelhardt do not bode well, leaving the viewer emotionally cold with their aural and physical evocations of water. This criticism cannot be levelled at the 16mm film Dead Red by Edward Stewart and Stephanie Smith. Two entwined bodies shower increasingly fervent lipstick upon each other’s face until we are left with a heaving, blurry mass of red on screen. The palpitations continue on the other side of the partition with Stephanie Smith’s humorous sound montage from
Putting new Scottish art in the picture is Alan Currall’s Gifted llokum
the film Ilebecca. As the listeners don headphones to hear the flashes of tinkly laughter, straining violins and increasingly breathy orgasmic sounds, there is the distinct feeling of being a voyeun
Clara llrsitti’s Self-Portrait In Scent elicited a strong reaction from one young viewer as he bolted out of her wonderful glass ‘phone-box’ exhibit shouting: ‘Ohh mum, that’s pure stinking!’ The artist’s chemical breakdown and replication of her own body scent is a strong argument for the right of Armani’s existence. Elsewhere, Alan Currall’s Uri Geller-
inspired Gifted liokum illustrated the power of thought via a Kafkaesque head and a glass of water while Christina McBride’s personal evocation of a Catholic childhood in Veritatis Splendour uncovered a shimmering sensuality in the religion’s imagery.
The CCA has never subscribed to a belief in promoting easy, bite-sized chunks of art on a plate and this exhibition proves that with mixed success. (Ann Donald)
New Art In Scotland - Part II is at the CCA until 29 Oct.
64 The List 21 October—3 November 1994