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As Above… So Below Images from The kabbalah

This exhibition at the Ben Uri Art Society brings together paintings by artists Yair Meshoulam and Herve Constant. Since the Society was founded in 1915, its primary aim has been to promote the Jewish visual arts as part of the Jewish cultural heritage. Over the years, the Society has organised many exhibitions of young Jewish artists and is delighted to continue the tradition with this exhibition. The fact that both artists have chosen to explore the Jewish mystical tradition of the Kabbalah in their work makes this exhibition even more relevant to the aims and objectives of the Society.

Herve Constant’s father was French, and his mother a Moroccan Jew. He was born in Casablanca, grew up in France and now lives in England; this varied experience of different cultures is reflected in the influences to be found in his work. His paintings have been exhibited widely both in this country and in France, and in 1994 were included in an exhibition at the Karelian State Museum, Russia.

Constant’s recent work has dwelt on mystical themes regarding the passing of time and notions of life and death. Rather than offering the viewer easy solutions to how his paintings should be read, Constant encourages one to study his work independently and find one’s own meaning in them, La Troisieme Enceinte is a large painting in which three blocks of colour are superimposed one on top of the other, graduating from cool blue to warm orange and finally to a central panel of fiery red. For me the triple nature of this work brings to mind images of the Holy of Holies of Jerusalem, the central section at the same time prominent but impenetrable. In Elements, symbolic representations of the elements are interconnected through a central panel, once more painted in a similar thick red paint.

Constant’s works can also be enjoyed simply for their colour, and, as is particularly obvious in his recent grisaille paintings, for the textures that he creates on paper. These sadly cannot be reproduced in photographs, and demand close examination of the paintings.


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