Julia Shulman. Colour & Figures

7, December 2013 · Events / Exhibitions

Exhibition by Julia Shulman opened January 2nd 19:00, at the Jerusalem House of Quality (Derech Hebron 12).


Julia Shulman: Situations

Leonid Lerner

Expressive sketches representing quite traditional genres: portraits, figures, landscapes. Bright pure colours, lines that seem to rip up the surface of the canvas, impatient hatching. One may think all this is just a good fast painting, and that the artist throws out her impressions briskly, and does not care about the effect. Of course, Julia Shulman does care about the effect. But the way she cares is… artistic, and thus unclear. So in reality, her paintings hold in secret much more than they expose; there is much to see and contemplate beyond these “throw-outs”.

First of all, it’s not just a projection of some artistic skills and techniques, but the projection of her very special spiritual situations. Situations like that are borderline states, they represent moments of peak tension of thoughts and feelings caused by real events or abstract experiences. These are the immediate reactions or memories the artist cannot avoid revealing in her work.
Reviewing the paintings we could as well refer to some existential insight that is traced in these spiritual situations. While painting the artist tries to keep this insight in mind, as she must outline all of these spots and lines while the experience is fresh in the memory. It explains the expression we see, all that rush and fragmentation. A brief impulse is the beginning of the picture, and right around this point the whole composition would be realized and built. This moment and point are key pieces of insight and situation, the source of the image.
The thoughtful viewer immediately discovers punctum from where the whole plot originates. And the painting commences when a brief impulse is shaped on the canvas. The artist throws her impression, and thus the life of the painting begins, i.e. the process of completing the narration and depiction. It comes easily if the situation is clear and joyful, or may be erratic and uncertain if the situation is difficult or painful.
The compositions appear to be assembled from stand-alone elements, so in each work you can find several closed “structures”. Yes, they are subject to the plan – albeit controversial, nervous – but still part of a system with a bright dominant. Conditional “foreground” is the center not of the picture but of the situation, or the field that displays the first impulse. So this dominant is not just compositional and colouristic but dramaturgic and existential.
Expressive things often seem to be angular and unfinished. That is quite natural and is the subject of the borderline situation. The artist probably could stop in time. But … could not. Or – does not want to end up, to planish, to overwrite and to overpaint the pure impression. The result is the absolutely unedited existential situation. It represents a special kind of thing, а special status, which completely contradicts any update.
The artist’s first clear impression is vital and figurative. And the sought-for situation is object and objective. Shulman is not interested in or fearful of shaping her existential insight with abstract signs. But at the same time she could not objectify and embody all her emotions – that’s too long, and requires too many details…
Therefore the artist reduces the margins of the painting with lines and tightens gaps with careless hatching. These lines are the seams that connect the insight and the subsequent experience in the painting as is. And besides it should be observed as a tool, or a way of sedation, because namely these lines remove the tension of the void and complete the form.
In each painting there is a conditional assembly point – some key figure, the epicenter of the situation. The figure, the part of the body (face) is drawn most carefully, with commitment or even – obsession. The rest is the background. The situation may be described briefly, but there is always an afterword, an aftertaste – and it should be placed somewhere, turned into some abstract noise, the chaos of lines, grids, spots, touches… It is difficult and almost impossible to finish like that – all at once. So, the remnants of impressions and expressions are thrown out mostly as abstract inserts, comments…
Julia Shulman has a very sharp, natural, essential and pure – exactly impression. Her paintings are not staged dramas with artificial blood and memorized text, but documents, paraphrases – aloof, but causing and provoking incredible empathy.

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