Are we facing a process of creation or erasure? Of subsistence or disappearance? In a series of intimate drawings, Assaf Rahat draws homeless figures, whom he meets on the city’s boulevards and alleys. The figures seem indifferent to their environs, indrawn, curled up to sleep on a bench surrounded by vegetation at the heart of urban bustle. Documentary in nature, the drawings strive to capture, in a brief moment of arrest, observation of people who have lost their whole world and are left with only the outdoors as a home, as their struggle for survival is exposed to all. One of these street dwellers is fused with a self-portrait of the artist, thus articulating the lurking danger and the fear of losing everything underlying human existence.
The homeless figures wander to Rahat’s series of paintings created in the medieval technique of egg tempera icon painting, consisting of natural pigment powders mixed with egg yolk, resin, and linseed oil, and applied to coarse burlap. At the focal point of the paintings is the figure of the artist, the one who lights a fire while looking at his reflection in the mirror and seeing himself burned, drowning, disappearing, and falling silent, succumbing to his hallucination. These fantastical works deal with painting’s reflexive quality as a district of dream and enlightenment, creation, erasure, and dissipation, while when nature – the nature of the painting itself – closes the figures and as if tries to erase their existence, burn and drown them, while nature—the nature of painting itself—closes in on the figures, ostensibly trying to erase their existence, burn and drown them.