Have you already seen Oren Ben Moreh’s paintings? Maybe in a moment. In any case, you’ve come in, and that’s pleasing. Because these paintings, which have been revealed or will be revealed to you in a moment, draw you in to the remote regions of the human mind, to those moments that manage to elude the brain’s synapses. To moments of a partly chilling, partly welcomed quietness. In a cold and warm or warm and cold painting. But, did the painting invite you to enter? Did the painting let you gauge it in the moment of encounter? Because the paintings, seemingly, are concerned with things that anyway do not pertain to you: an elusive moment of meaningless prevarication, waiting for something whose time has already passed, things that disappear because no one sees them. Here is not home sweet home. Here is the intimacy of the other. And maybe you are familiar with the painting’s intimacy, which stems from the voyeuristic gaze into the private realm, that privacy that is concealed by and constructed from the layers of paint – what seems exposed actually demands excavation and discovery, since the painting in fact conceals more than it reveals. Maybe it is not necessarily love at first sight.
Have you asked yourself about the women appearing in the paintings? Or is that actually clear to you? Is there something feminine in the paintings? Maybe in the fact that they prevaricate and mull things over, bursting with a raging storm of yes or no? And maybe here something and nothing live under one roof, masculine in its insolence, in its charisma? Either way, like a dolled up lady, the paintings are heavily, suffocatingly made up – layers of makeup cover all the pores, making it impossible to breath, impossible to distinguish between a streak of light and a lighting fixture.
True, there are no borders in Ben Moreh’s paintings, but in spite of that, and maybe precisely because of that there is a struggle. And what a struggle! One territory in the painting features the occupied territories, so filled with paint that it peels off the paper, and on the other side – gentleness, painterly cunning that tries to create clear images. But these images too seem restrained, not to say ashamed, for having dared to raise their heads and emerge from within the painting. Like these images, the painting too has not made up its mind yet whether it wants to be revealed or to remain mysterious – the insolence of the color, the opaque glow of the pastel, stand as a counterweight against the painting’s qualms.
The inevitable result of this struggle, which is at the heart of the painting, is death. And indeed, you can think of Ben Moreh’s painting as a made-up corpse. It shows a ceaseless concern with death and the space it creates, with the lack that is highlighted by death rituals and by the consciousness of death that flickers without warning into people’s lives. Often you can ignore this concern, but not here. This is painting that resists the advertisement, the instant, the self-flattery and the information superhighways that dominate art. Honest painting, which looks death straight in the eye without wrapping it with tiresomeness and kitsch, and that doesn’t wish to shout or glorify the naturally underpowered.
Against this background, you might want to notice the small details, how much consolation they offer, the single cup that holds all the consolation (however small), painted in front of the figure’s blurry face. How material are the fire and the background, like the Cliffs of Moher struck by the ocean waves, and yet how airy and light. Flowers sent to spread joy but destined to wilt momentarily, the landscape paintings that dream of the pastoral – all everyday objects whose presence is meant to make life easier; a corporeal world, full of matter, that tries to lift the spirit. Like the paintings themselves, these objects are completely material, but they evoke all thatpersists in a human being’s spirit – not in the sublime but in the human, in the living.
If you like, you can say that these paintings reside in the twilight zone, and they do indeed wonderfully produce such a twilight zone. In fact, the paintings keep subtle balances – in color, texture, images, composition – in order to linger as long as possible in this twilight zone and emphasize its importance. You too might want to join them, lingering for a moment inside your vacillations, identifying with this sense of indecision and letting your mind wander aimlessly. To leave the safe ground of reliable knowledge.