Art Commentary: Haim Mizrahi At Wallace Gallery


Haim Mizrahi’s show at the Wallace Gallery in East Hampton is more than meets the eye if you discount the fact that it looks like the artist has been greatly influenced by Jackson Pollock. The truth is, Mizrahi started doing his particular kind of images in 1997 without ever seeing a Pollock painting. (He calls his own method “Splatter and Spill.”) Simply speaking, Mizrahi’s sources of inspiration do not derive from Pollock, but rather from poetry and drumming. And probably house painting as well.

If Mizrahi’s art exudes tremendous energy and life – affirming forces, poetry and music probably contribute to these qualities. For example, if Mizrahi gets in a bind while working on his abstract images, he takes a break to play the drums or write a poem. This is how these diverse art forms help release the creative drive. Whatever Mizrahi counts on for motivation, it works, noting, “I just continue, doing every day the same thing in the same fashion. That means it will come to life, produce results.”

That’s Mizrahi’s goal: to bring his paintings to life without thinking or judging what he has done. “I don’t come to the studio to get ready to paint. I walk in and just turn the heat on; I just release paint on the surface. My body will paint even if my head is detached.”

Besides motivation, Mizrahi also uses music, particularly, to jump-start a precise plan or technique when he’s creating an accumulation of layers. Each layer has a different color and is subject to different musical counts. “ I use the tempo in music to create the images. I stick with the plan,” he stresses. “ I don’t change my mind in the middle of my creating.”

In a nutshell, Mizrahi’s paintings are not subject-oriented, nor is he concerned about light, composition and color. He feels competent in those areas and can concentrate on his technique instead. This is apparent in his current exhibit with pieces like “Normal Consideration,” where there is a multi-layering of reality existing in different stages, according to the artist. These stages, it seems to this critic, become more complicated and dense, depending on the work. Even so, “The World is Hanging on a String” with its vertical shapes, appears less dense than some of Mizrahi’s other works. But we can imagine that he still uses a similar technique no matter what the configurations.

Mizrahi’s poetry can be complex as well with its juxtaposition of words, but it is less dense in his small book, There Is No Simple Way to Say Simple Things. The poems are really short single sentences, which convey poignant wisdom. For example, “ The gates to immortality have no locks,” and “ The accidental is designed.” It is interesting to note that Mizrahi’s art and poetry both seem spontaneous, but, in fact, they are not.

Mizrahi’s penchant for poetry (and his drumming) go back a long way, to his life in Jerusalem where he was also a house painter. While his sister, a well-known poet in Israel, encouraged his early efforts, he never stopped writing even though English is a second language.

And since the late 1990s, Mizrahi hasn’t stopped painting either.


Haim Mizrahi’s show will be on view at the Wallace Gallery, 37 Main Street, East Hampton, until March 15, 2012. Call 631-329-0055 for information about the exhibit and a poetry reading this weekend. Mizrahi will be in a group exhibit at Spring’s Ashawagh Hall during Mother’s Day Weekend. Call the same number for information.

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