Opening Reception: Oct. 14, 2021 at 8 pm

Michal Worke’s painting exhibition at Zemack Contemporary Art opens upon her return from an artist’s residency in Addis Ababa. 37 years after immigrating from Ethiopia, Worke returned to her homeland, this time as an Israeli artist at the invitation of the Embassy in Ethiopia (with the support of Artis). At the end of the residency, a selection of the works created during her stay was exhibited in Ethiopia’s most prestigious gallery – Addis Fine Art.

The classical-figurative themes have always been Worke’s focus of interest. Painting from observation. Looking at things as they are, in their simplicity. She does not strive for an accurate depiction of reality. The paintings are “impressions,” wishing to capture the small moments on the canvas as they are reflected through the painter’s eyes, without trying to “correct” them. Worke draws inspiration from the Impressionists, as she goes outside to paint directly from nature en plein air. She does not stage situations.

The work process usually starts with charcoal studies, from which she continues to work with color. Sometimes she approaches the canvas without any preliminary sketches. In the current show, Worke also presents acrylic paintings on paper for the first time. The use of a limited palette of three to four colors and the direct painting technique offer a conceptual and formal distillation of the detailed reality with succinct means.

Worke feels like a researcher who is drawn to investigate the world around her time after time. Painting allows her a continuous and dynamic dialogue with reality. Sometimes, things change before her eyes mid-painting: What appeared to be stable, suddenly disappears, and the painter’s gaze moves on in other directions, focusing on the new experience that takes shape in front of her, another moment that asks to be painted.

Text by Dan Orimian

Michal Worke was born in Ethiopia, immigrated to Israel in 1984, and is currently working and living in Tel Aviv. Worke studied painting with Israel Hershberg, Aram Gershuni, and in the art program at Musrara School of Art and Society in Jerusalem. Her work has been featured in solo and group shows at the Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv; Tel Aviv Artists’ House; Jerusalem Artists’ House; and Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art. She is the winner of the 2019 Miron Sima Prize for the Visual Arts, and in 2020 received the Lauren & Mitchell Presser Contemporary Art Grant.