Winds with a minimum velocity of 74,9 km/h are called storms. They bring destruction and chaos in a meteorological and metaphorical sense: existing structures and systems are shaken to the grounds to be reassembled a new. In this way, a storm always carries the potential for a new beginning.
Roy Mordechay’s paintings are situated between figurative compositions and a dissolution of forms. His pictorial motives oscillate and fade away, while one attempts to get a grip on them – following the logic of dreams and the moment of remembering just before waking, when it becomes impossible to catch the dreamt images.
In Three ideas for a storm figures and objects float across the canvas: a shadow-body with overbending, long limbs; a cigarette-smoking head; clouds passing by; a thumb-up; an ear? These images are joined by diverse abstract shapes and scribbles. Even though the single elements are separated from each other, the viewer still tries to form a connection between them, to weave them into a narrative. This attempt is made difficult by the fact that there are no fixpoints in the pictorial space. The composition is one-dimensional, the background flat.
The flat perspective in the paintings is challenged by the sculptural qualities of the canvases: wooden frames define the borders of the image, at the same time defying the conventional four-angles-principle of image carriers. The rounded angles seem familiar to us from the use of smartphones and tablets: 2012 Apple patented its design, protecting the “decorative design” of a “portable display device” – the shape of a rectangle with rounded corners. Likewise, the harmonic gradients of Mordechay’s watercolor canvas coats remind us of typical backdrops in smartphone screens: “The canvas as touchscreen.” Mordechay transfers digital sketches onto the canvas (using a simple drawing program on his mobile phone).
The large-scale paintings (The Moon Holder & the Wing Thief and A4 Charisma, both 2021) are placed in dialogue with Mordechay’s most recent series of works (Storm #1 – #5, 2021): Only the second glance reveals that these are mobiles hanging from the ceiling, and not pillars. The sculptures made of remnants from stretcher frames, waste woods and scraps seem peculiarly stiff. In the gallery space, the negative shapes of the mobiles appear like additional sculptural layers of the pictorial planes, obstructing the view or, to the contrary, highlighting elements of the paintings as if perceived through a viewfinder. Stepping closer to the mobiles, figurative carvings become evident. It is not necessary to know that Mordechay grew up in his father’s wood workshop in Tel Aviv, to assume his fascination with the handcraft of carpentry.
Mordechay’s references encompass the digital age as much as cultural artifacts, the pictorial language of the Medieval Age and even prehistoric cave paintings. In a playful process, his works are formed by a conglomerate of images, that collide, vibrate, and resonate.
After every storm comes the sun.
Text: Miriam Bettin
Translation: Tatjana Schaefer