Memories from the Future
About Michael Halak Solo Exhibition
Michael Halak was born in Fassuta Village in the Galilee. He earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from the Fine Art Department at the University of Haifa, and a certificate of studies from the Florence Academy of Art 2005. Halak received the 2016 Ministry of Culture and Sport Prize, the 2012 Rappaport Prize for Young Artist from Tel Aviv Museum of Art, and the 2010 Young Artist Prize from the Ministry of Culture and Sport.
Michael Halak’s exhibition, Memories of the Future, features five new small-scale paintings, “memory boxes” of sorts, larges scale work comprised of nine paintings of cut cardboard boxes, and a large-scale portrait of a girl.
The paintings of memory boxes, painted in an impressive realistic technique, interweave objects, toys, still life, landscape views, portraits, and at times text. At first glance, the collection of objects seems random. A more careful look reveals that the virtuously painted items serve as a lure aimed to trap the viewer’s gaze, directing it towards the artist’s biography and the past as a decisive moment in his art, one that is inseparable from the present and the future. The illusion of reality that takes shape on the canvas is seductively beautiful, yet fraught and fragmented, engendering confusion and unease.
The duality of the past and the present is particularly prominent in the reflection of the artist in a glass ball, his figure documenting reality (the artist in the studio next to his assistant), tying him to the past through the connection to the collection of childhood items.
The paintings of cut cardboard boxes symbolize a state of passage and transience, a precarious situation that may collapse with one gust of wind. This experience has been accompanying Halak for years, as well as the connection between man and the place, presence and absence, belonging and alienation, identity and the lack of identity, testament and silencing.
The cropped painting of a girl is seductive in its beauty and at the same time evokes feelings of disintegration, fragmentation, and disruption, held together by pieces of tape that prevent it from falling apart. In this painting too, the skillful painting creates vitality, the composition, the gaze turned towards the viewer, even the emphasis on the earring – bring to mind Vermeer’s renowned painting Girl with a Pearl Earring. Halak paints the background in yellow-ocher – the colors of the girl’s dress in Vermeer’s painting – in an unknown space. The reference to such a prominent painting from the history of art strives to expand the image beyond the local to the universal.
Halak’s painting holds biographical, universal, and historical layers. His paintings are imbued with the tension that accompanies him in his life and art, demonstrating the dichotomy and split between distinct yet inseparable worlds.