Michael Halak’s solo exhibition at the Noga Gallery of Contemporary Art presents the fragility, transparency and impossible structure of broken tools. The cracks are internal and are an inherent feature of an introspective dive. The ensuing explosion is centripetal while exposing one’s inner personal parts. Metaphorically, the light and dark olives embody the fragility of personal existence. The tension created between the fragmented vessels containing olives and oil, which are strewn across the damp saturated earth, indicates an obstinate repudiation of the inevitability of fragmented being.
Halak’s personal view corresponds with the works of British artist Phyllida Barlow, however not at eye level, but rather at ground level where all life’s cracks, which Halak is focusing on, lie wallowing in the ashes of the saturated earth.
Dispersion of the fragments is not incidental but rather predictable. They cannot be gathered up, and can no longer be reconstructed, but can only be used to produce new tools that are perhaps even more resistant to internal pressures. Halak provides an intense and painful glimpse of his innermost parts. This outward view from the inside, allows the observer to feel the vortex of internal pressures, the almost impossible combination of a private and public life, and the Sisyphean task of coping with life’s finiteness.
Similar to the German artist Ulrich Rückriem, Halak is more interested in cracks and parts rather than in the whole. The display of cracks shows the loss of the absolute value of the whole and of unbroken perfection. Even the olives are cracked as if they are participants in a general cracked scene.
The concrete wall, still exhibited as a whole unit, is there to separate the fragments on each side of it: both those broken from within and those broken from without. The chaos exhibited on the different canvases represents an anthology of repressed and forgotten memories of whole tools that were removed from their natural environment. Halak’s metaphors, referred to by Linda Nochlin as “fragments, ruins and mutilation echo the mourning for past grandeur as a whole, which can only be revisited through its remains amidst modernity”1.0 Those fragments beckon us to descend to the saturated earth and observe the fragmented tools – those cracks in our lives.
Halak attempts to cope with the absurdity of what he sees against the wall while expressing his yearning for unity. In a world created out of fragments and the inherent contradiction that spumes forth through the invisible cracks in the concrete wall, Halak suggests correcting a point of view — one that makes meeting with a transparent and imperfect past more feasible.
Curator: Dr. Gabi Geva
1 Nochlin, Linda, (2001), The Body in Pieces: The Fragments as a Metaphor of Modernity, Thames and Hudson