Mutatis mutandis (1999-2000) - Working Painters (2000-2001)
During a trip to Mexico City back in 1999 Jan Hoet visited Yishai Jusidman’s (°1963) studio and decided to devote an exhibition to his work at S.M.A.K.. Jusidman’s paintings had been rarely seen in Europe until Harald Szeeman included him in last summer’s Venice Biennale.. The exhibition at S.M.A.K. brings together two bodies of work, on the one hand the mutatis mutandis works (1999-2000) and on the other hand the most recent Working Painters series (2000-2001). The show will travel subsequently to MEIAC in Badajoz (Spain).The investigation into the evolving possibilities of painting as determined by our ever-slippery mirroring interplay with reality is an essential aspect of Jusidman’s work. For Jusidman, the stylistic and rhetorical means by which his subjects can be optimally represented are deduced from the preconceived goal of encompassing the viewer’s full-fledged, organic experience of the work - where the artwork is meant to serve as a sort of literal and metaphorical distorting mirror: spherizing, veiling, amplifying, recontextualizing. These manipulations are managed in ways that allow for figurative, abstract and concrete (re)presentations to coexist amiably, so form, content and vehicle intermingle suggestively.
For mutatis mutandis, two previous bodies of work have served as models: the paintings of Sumo-wrestlers in the Sumo series (1995-98)and the portraits of psychotics in the en/treat/ment series (1998-99). As such, they too become subjects of observation, where the act of scrutiny is framed by a set of deconstructive manipulations, reiterations, and variations. Pictorial concerns are always evident in Jusidman’s work, and serve to bolster the conceptual, not subvert it. mutatis mutandis resorts to a variety of media, such as painted-over tapestries, large scale abstract paintings and digitalized photographs and plotter prints.
The literal inclusion of other painter’s paintings in his work has been for Jusidman a means to align his output solely within the tradition of Western painting. In Working Painters, the implication of other painters’ paintings also determines the functioning of the series. To produce the full-length portraits in this series, Jusidman photographed some of his fellow painters in their studios, exactly at the moment when, with their instruments in hand, they stepped back to briefly look at the canvas. Jusidman describes this as "the moment when the painter’s attention alternates between contemplation, self-criticism and imagining what might be painterly possible."
Art these days has broadened its approach, moving away from modernist certainties into the fraught comminglings of artifice and life, conception and perception, technological remove and aura-infused handwork. To navigate these waters, to make work that is not merely clever, but will continue to stimulate sense and sensibility, requires both finely honed artistic skills and real intellectual acuity. As mutatis mutandis and Working Painters show, Yishai Jusidman is fully equipped to meet this challenge.