Tali Tamir




'New Diagrams'


Catalogue (2001)

Tal Esther Gallery












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In at least three drawings, Gilead Keydar draws the image of a glass or a  receptacle, half filled with water. The philosophic/semantic debate, dealing with whether a glass can be described as half full or half empty (or, in other words, which part of the space defines the nature and function of the glass), can reflect upon the act of drawing in Keydar's work. The white sheet of paper, which is none other than the empty, initial domain, the painter's workspace, has its minimalist encounter with Keydar's paintbrush or pencil. Is it half empty or half full? Is it "a drawing", or has it remained a hovering presence, on the brink of action, in a sort of Zen-like gesture of touch and movement, precariously suspended between being and nothingness?

Gilead Keydar has developed his painterly language in a backward motion. Previously, he has shown virtuosic drawings of classical themes - hands, a room, still life, landscape. Keydar succeeded in fragmenting these skillful, densely-lined drawings, into their most basic components - a line, a stain, a dot, the hair of a paintbrush that clung to the paper's surface and delineated territories and inward paths within it. Keydar refuses to mold his work into "a grand painting", or even into Images that belong to an intimate, classic genre. Both of these paths were within his grasp, but he rejected them and preferred, rather, to make use of the painterly knowledge that is available to him. He is drawn, again and again, to the white square of nothingness that purportedly dismisses painting. But it is exactly from that most distant point of departure that Keydar begins to develop his personal drawing.

Keydar's drawing exists In the ambivalent space between fullness and emptiness, between being and nothingness, within an immanent doubt that comes to life in skillful painterly gestures. In opposition to the Zen-like state, which IS hinted at in the minimalist painterly lines, Keydar doesn't approach nothingness with calm ease, which signifies an elevated state of spiritual development. Rather, there appears a haunted need to scrutinize, a yearning to return to a primal state of things, even at the cost of tearing them apart. The constant state of danger, the need to look the white space in the eye, and the attempt to overcome it by densely filling it with Images, signifies the state of a painter who refuses to be seduced by painting. "Euphoria-Melancholia", writes Keydar on one of the heavy doors that he paints upon, as a metaphor for the two diverging paths of painting - euphoric/expressive painting, full and self-aware, or melancholic/lyrical painting, that fades out into total oblivion. This dualism is reflected in his selection of working materials: from paintings that are heavy, both metaphorically and literally, and drawn on wooden doors, window frames or old beams, to drawings on small sized sheets of paper. Keydar does not separate his work into these different genres. The ambivalent whole - lightness and heaviness, emptiness and fullness - is what grants his work its meaning.

The thin line that signifies the level of water in the glass denotes its being - if the water's existence was not marked by a line, we wouldn't have known that there is water in the glass. Hence, the code of drawing, that which turns the transparent into the seen, implies first and foremost that something exists ­five lines, arranged in a certain fashion, imply a horse's head. Three lines create a glass of water. The act of bringing to life is a "small miracle" that takes place on the sheet of paper - the cautious optimism of a skilled painter.