Assaf Rahat’s exhibition “Night of the Minotaur” showcases around 15 large-scale tempera paintings that traverse between expressionism and surrealism. This body of work reflects Rahat’s personal interpretation to Borges’ story of the Minotaur, driven by a desire to connect to primal emotions through aesthetics and by exposing the beauty in the grotesque and in that which terrifies. Rahat creates an analogous relationship between the Minotaur subject to man’s base desires and monstrous thoughts. Similarly to how the Minotaur was imprisoned in the labyrinth symbolizing the cultured, so too is man’s monstrosity forever trying to escape its trapped position within the maze of civilization.
Text Dr. Tidhar Nir
The Minotaur ― half man and half bull, is the reoccurring motif in Rahat’s new series of works. The viewer might question what relevance Greek mythology has in our day and age, and why the artist chose to position himself in the center of this seemingly outdated erotic fiction. And yet, as modernism has neither invalidated nor devaluated its preceding schools of thought, so is the case that an artwork has the power of reawakening and revitalizing the dead. Indeed this is one of art’s main vocations ― to freeze a historical moment of time and examine it in the most thorough and intimate manner possible.
Rahat’s series creates a bridge between the ancient mythological labyrinths to early 20th century expressionism, which in our digital age, has rapidly become similarly antiquated. Thus, through his works, we are exposed precisely to the collective unknown, filled with childhood memories of bedtime monsters and fairytales. In the past mythology was not so clearly separated from old world religion and its rites, which were centered around the notion of the victim. Have we managed to dispose of these religious sacrifices or do they end up showing up, incessantly, as new personas we must kill in order to live? And have we truly managed to overcome those childhood monsters, are they not the reciprocal maze of impulse and passion, where, through new ritual, we have sacrificed that same web of instincts on this novel fetishistic altar?