Installation Shots



If There Is, a Garden of Eden
Curator: Ariel Rom

Recent works by Ilan Baruch exhibit an almost utopian nature, but inherent tension; the essence of the Israeli space. His long-standing expressive use of light and shadow that evoke drama, as well as his attention to textures, and a new approach to the local landscape have made his paintings colorfully intense in recent years. The particular nature that Baruch portrays in his paintings is one that many of us do not encounter in our daily lives, but it is based on the one that is located just a few steps from his studio and house.

When people try to recall a visual recollection of the country’s environment, they often think of this nature as being the most Israeli. However, Baruch’s most recent works are distinguished by a depiction of that nature that is solely based on a genuine landscape. Beginning to emerge often in Baruch’s latest paintings are blue skies filled with clouds, along with seemingly fantastic encounters between plants and animals. These elicit feelings of exaggeration or refinement of the shapes and colors of the reality revealed on the canvas, transforming the earthly-Israeli landscape that has appeared in Baruch’s paintings for more than three decades into a type of space with a spiritual feeling, placing the viewer in a meditative state and in a position of pondering and questioning how that nature is perceived.

The recent paintings by Baruch show a shift in the way they relate to nature. The artist painted from observation for many years without using any outside tools, including photography. His tendency to make decisions only based on appearance has recently changed. Baruch developed a certain degree of freedom and independence in painting as a result of his very deep familiarity with the local space, frequent repetition of the act of painting the same objects, perception of the land, and local light. Today, Baruch permits himself to describe a specific object or area using his vast experience and even his imagination, based on the real world. The close-ups, portraits, and spaces that Baruch observes with the vibrancy and splendor of local nature cast doubt on the truthfulness of the viewer’s perception of the space, between earthly and heavenly, and reveal a reflection of the significance and relationship between the local space and our perception of it.

In Baruch’s works, the majority of the close-ups of Tzabars (cactus), paintings of trees and landscapes, and even portraits of people or animals, do not point to a particular period of time. In fact, there is a paradoxical quality to his paintings since they somehow manage to portray both the everlasting character of his subjects, as well as the sense of alternation of them as parts of a changing nature. Baruch embraces the diversity of the Israeli landscape and the proof of ongoing human connection to it through vibrant colors and precise figurative elements. His paintings depict a space that is either what we already have or something we long for. A place that is both familiar and unencumbered by the intellect on the one hand.

Baruch is a creator who is a product of the place where he was born and raised, where he thinks, feels, and produces his art. He depicts Israeliness and the surrounding area as he intends to see them. He views the people who appear in his paintings as being a natural part of the surrounding environment, so instead of challenging their right to be there, he focuses on capturing them. In a way similar to how human figures become nature, nature becomes an object, an object for a portrait. This is evident in both the portrait of Jerusalem and the Tzabar, to which Baruch returns compulsively over time. All of Baruch’s subjects for his paintings, including people, animals, plants, fruits, and landscapes, symbolize the fleeting moment and the way the painting preserves it. They also represent the sublime beauty that Baruch sees in this fleetingness and the way he attempts to preserve it as a memory on the canvas.