Orit Hofshi & Mahmood Kaiss | Standpoint
Opening Reception: Thursday, Feb. 14 at 8 pm
Curator: Yaron Haramati

‘On Trees and Wood’ 
/ Text by Ron Bartos

What distinguishes ‘tree’ from ‘wood’? The tree grows, changes, yields, responds to the seasons and its life cycle. Wood, in contrast, is a man-made raw material created after the tree’s death or intentional felling. And so, tree is life and wood is death, one is nature and the other is man, one is the wild and the other is culture.

Wood is the basic raw material in the works of Orit Hofshi and Mahmood Kaiss, as it is also in the current exhibition by the two artists. The juxtaposition of the two artworks created by the two artists brings to mind additional dualities such as art/craft, painting/installation, figuration/abstraction, expressive/geometric, secular/religious, destruction/construction, finite/infinite; and if we turn to the artists themselves, we can also add to these: woman/man, senior artist/emerging artist, Jewish/Muslim.

The work of each artist is fundamentally different, but one of the central aspects of their art forms an affinity between their works, planted precisely in the difference between tree and wood. If you will, the transformation of the tree is in itself the entire story – mankind’s imprint on the world, meaning, the traces that man leaves in the world as the generator of culture in a natural space, who leaves devastation in his wake. Hofshi’s painted worlds are apocalyptic visions that portray man in the ruins of his culture, their setting alludes to (without fixing them in) the current sociopolitical climate. Kaiss’s arabesques force nature (tree) to become raw material (wood), disciplining the raw material to serve as culture and tradition. Removed from their natural religious context (mosques, holy books, combined with calligraphy etc.), the arabesques stand as artworks that hold both the geopolitical conflicts and the added value in the relationship between Islamic culture and Western culture.


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