A continuum transposition between a sense of “familiar” and “strange” is a central aspect of the works of Gilad Efrat, whether in relation to the gaze examining from up close the surface of a worked stone, or whether in relation to the distant bird’s eye view of aerial photography. The surface reveals a fragility exposed by the existing fissures, and by the arterial lines marking future cracks. The action of this process creates a complex connection between duration and immediacy. These terms, linked to the dimension of time, are two axes that focus, or alternatively, disperse diverse concepts in relation to time.
The existential immediacy of a faded photograph is the first, and most obvious level, which the four works, painted during the past two years, share. They connect landscapes whose sources are photographs from the time of World War I: Landscape I, 2001 and Landscape II, 2002, and photographs of towns taken after World War II: City I, 1999 and City II, 2001. The immediacy of the photograph is seen in contrast to the time that it takes him to complete a painting. For him, these are the starting points from where he can explore views of time, and in relation to them, the ways in which he relates to the concept of “makom” (place or site) in his works. At the foundation is the careful selection of existing images that adjoin space and time with a place seen on the map. This sighting leads to a process connecting the anecdotal (showing a specific place) to the general, without stating a preference for one or the other. Through the precise transferal of photograph to painting he utilizes the distant bird’s eye view of the photograph while simultaneously creating a physical closeness to the subject of the painting: showing a place.
The sensitive treatment of the dimension of time allows for the existence of different layers of time on the same surface. These create loaded connections between periods and various points of view that eventually meet on an oil on canvas painting. The time of the photograph contains within it the place of the photograph: the duration of the single painting, the time of the creation of the paintings as a period – the ability of the painting to exist as an accumulation of compressed information, with its start in the distant gaze of the photograph and its formulation in the deconstructing close gaze of the painter.
The faded photograph is so factual. Fading – as the process of the lose of color marks the course of passing time – lacks an aspect of nostalgia because of Efrat’s precise, detailed, analytic treatment that avoids blurring.
This process started in Efrat’s early archaeological paintings that outline the surface through the use of the system of division of the land into squares, see Gilad Efrat “A non-calculated excavation is bound to turn into a riot” warned the British Archeologist and invented the ‘square system’, 1997, oil on canvas, and continues to this day in the four above mentioned works. This passage of time contains within it much longer periods of time that are still outlined within it: European landscapes, European cities. Images that have built up within the collective memory of Western culture, images of the dismantling of its material holdings. The photograph, and in contrast, the date of the painting seemingly create items that are not lacking in irony. Visions connecting the relationship towards these “surfaces” move, as stated, between the familiar and the strange. However much it seems to be transparent, the earth’s surface is built as an arrangement of areas of light and dark, and however hard we find it to identify the specific place that slips between these patches, they appear to be camouflage markings. Yet, in contrast to the familiar role of camouflage markings, these do not obfuscate, but emphasis the focussed arrangement of opposites expressed through color, the relation of light and shadow, and as stated, mixed sensations of time and place. These same patches that are used as camouflage in one context attract attention in another. This unpredetermined choice of the predetermined duplicities of the layers of the work invites a dialectic reading of the information compressed into the details, in the way that its interpretation is linked to observations about the actual work process.
Efrat’s ability to build into his work such complexity in relation to place and time establishes the issue of “makom”, of place as unique (the photographic moment) and of temporality as general (the angle of view that places on a map, and therefore is the start of generalization). The painting process allows for detailed treatment of this totality in a way that commits to existential mutuality essentially different ways of looking that are complementary parts of the work process. These allow the painting to realize a concrete existential proposal that is deduced from the detail: the stone, the specific place, and from the general: “anywhere”. Time signifies a process measured in equal values (minutes, hours, days, years) although the painting’s subject, as well as the way it has been created, induce time’s ability to constrict and expand (the moment of destruction, the process of building). And yet, even without the violent moment of destruction, the passage of time still exists as a measure of the unavoidable process of extinction, and its cyclical measurement in nature still attaches to it the civilized counting of set and measured periods of time. All these are tightly connected to the work process and gaze of Gilad Efrat.
Vered Zafran Gani, 2002