Avishai Platek and Nava Frankel | The Mountain’s Base

This is a joint exhibition for an artist whose primary medium is painting (Avishai Platek) and an artist whose primary medium is performance (Nava Frankel). It was conceived through thinking about the commonalities in how these artists work and mutual curiosity.

The images the artists create are active in the place and time dimensions. When they think of space, they deal with the way space makes the image and not just dwells within it. They think of the spatial functions as content that can be actively used to construct the image. In thinking about ‘time,’ there’s a systematic struggle with its features stability: its endless prolongation, its continuity, the inability to turn the wheel back.

In the exhibition, Platek and Frankel chose to place themselves in a unique time zone: the time ‘leading up to,’ the time before ‘the thing itself.’ This time usually functions as a preface to the plot itself. In the exhibition, this time separates from its purpose, which is its end, and makes the act of preparation an autonomous action, a whole and rich content, open wide. The site on which the artists work is a changing, deceptive and dynamic space: the studio space, the canvas space, the palm or face space, the frame – limited and infinite alike.

In a series of video works conversing with each other, the artists photograph themselves or parts of themselves in the studio “preparing for something:” drawing marks on their faces and hands, hanging a white cloth in the studio, walking around the studio “without touching the floor,” painting the floor they step on black. The pace of the activity is frantic and humorous at the same time: a task becomes a game, and vice versa. In the video where the two artists are seen painting the floor black, they simultaneously erase and conceal it while painting on it and adding layers. Each drying layer becomes a basis for the next layer. More and more black brings to mind an obsessive action of scrubbing, cleansing, and purging, which resists blackening and dirt. Black, blackening, as a kind of ionization and cleansing, a physical and performative magical ritual.

In addition to the video series, the exhibition will feature a series of paintings by Platek, including pictures of local wildlife. The series originates from a camera set up by Israel Nature and Parks Authority on Highway 1 in preparation for the construction of an ecological bridge that will allow them to cross safely on both sides. Here, too, the time ‘leading up to’ populates full content, with no trace of the roadside space. The quick and accurate brush strokes convey a strong sense of transience in a minimalistic way and the animal’s wild consciousness. Platek’s painting tries to impersonate the medium of photography. From the photo, Platek borrows the flatness, concreteness, sharp fragmentation, and blurring created in the night photographs when the light exposure is low, thus compartmentalizing our ability to see. A “sheep” will be placed In front of these images. It is assembled of a smoke machine and programmed to bleat “baa” just before dispersing a fluffy smoke cloud. The violence of the flash exposures versus the subtlety of the machine which constantly creates itself as a sheep.

The artists deliberately mix the object, the subject, and the action’s platform in their works. This way, they leave behind presuppositions, create a constant movement in the viewer’s mind, and invite new horizons for thinking about painting, performance, and their relationship. In this exhibition, Frankel and Platek try to challenge and reflect on the place of painting, the leakage between the world of performance and painting, and the preoccupation with space, which can be doubled in meaning: emptiness, nothingness, disappearance, and blackening, in conjunction with the possibility of fullness, openness, well-being, and abundance. Choosing black and white, blackening, glare, night-vision conditions, and marking characterizes Platek’s series of paintings and resonates in his joint work with Frankel, the performance artist.

Ziva Jelin

More images from the exhibition