Wall, Bed and Slippers
Drorit Gur Arie
The women that inhabit Yossi Mark’s paintings are within themselves, in a bedroom, sitting bewildered at the edge of a bed or half asleep on a crumpled sheet. Their reddish curly hair hints at relaxation, artlessness, a primeval quality; and their body language testifies to peacefulness, as if anticipating something which will forever remain beyond our understanding. The plain, blank wall blocks the horizon, fixes them, and the viewer’s gaze, to the presence of the room, to themselves. The wall serves as a screen to cast reflections upon, to empty vagrancies of consciousness, in the silence of the room, in the loaded presence of matter, which is not much, the bare necessities, a bed, a rolled blanket, a nude woman, a pair of slippers and an expanse of floor occasionally. Mark creates matter from the void, movement from the inanimate, and silence envelopes all, contains the “story” which is in fact a “non story”, just “das ding an zich”; pure beauty, distilled grace.
I do my utmost to attain emptiness;
I hold firmly to stillness.
The teaming creatures all rise together
And I watch their return…
Returning to one’s roots is known as stillness.
This is what is meant by returning to one’s destiny.
Returning to one’s destiny is known as the constant.
Knowledge of the constant is known as discernment.
Mark’s is a unique realism that ignores the tactility of the outer surfaces, and does not idealize what is. Through crystal clear observation, silently detached from the hustle of convention, his paintings depict a near casual, common reality. With lucidity as close as feasible to the direct experience, free from constraints of time and space, albeit very precise about time and space. His art is endowed with Haiku qualities, saturated with the beauty of simplicity, of the ordinary, of the sadness which accompanies the knowledge of the inevitable ephemeralness. A pebble being thrown into a pond creates ever widening, fading circles, like soft sounds on a sounding board. It is imperative to gaze, to surrender, to that which the painting offers, here, in the immediate, the familiar, in the things as they are – exists the whole. Not in the obsessive search for the sublime, not in some hidden reality. Mark’s women are to be found within rooms, in their own state of mind, in their solitude, without being lonely. Here under a bright, shining light, that shimmers on their faces and bodies, alone, facing the emptiness of the grayish blue wall that swallows their musings and gazes and emits them. A wall that is the horizon of the gaze, of consciousness, that is imbued with the seas of Caspar David Friedrich, aspiring to far away and unreachable horizons; as well as with Mark Rothko’s fields of vision, dissolving the gaze into his squares that are floating towards the heart of darkness. Mark’s sober regime of observation scrutinizes the contents of the intimate space, accelerates toward the empty wall that blocks that field of vision and forces a return to the image, to the room, to the enigmatic, silent space, to the self. In this Mark touches the spirit of Zen – seeing things in their suchness. This is an indication of “that which exists” as a basic cognitive entity, devoid of contrasts such as consistencies versus separation, approvals versus objections, attractions versus repudiations. This is a clear vision of our existence, without conceptualization, without implication of sentiments, or perceptions. This is “IT”, “A Return to the Root”, to what is and nothing else, which contains all dualities that exists in a reciprocal formation, in a complete mutuality. The elusive truth concealed within the expanses of Mark’s oeuvres, lies not beyond what the eyes can see; it is present, as in Merleau-Ponty’s dictum, in the heart of the seen by itself, in “the unseen of the seen”.
Drorit Gur Arie, is the Director and Chief Curator of the Petach-Tikva Museum of Art.