Efrat Galnoor’s Nymphs project is a continuation of her painterly preoccupation with the examination of relations between geographic and human space, natural and artificial landscape. Her point of departure, in this case, is Claude Monet’ Nymphéas – a series of paintings where he addressed the attempt to depict “the world as it is” or “the water lilies as they are”. One of Monet’s conclusions from his attempts to solve the problem of the constant transformation of the nature around him was to dedicate himself to serial painting. These have culminated in the panoramic and large-scale water-lily paintings presented in two especially built oval rooms at the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris. The painterly challenge involved is also invoked by the artist’s own words to American painter Lilla Cabot Perry: “Try to forget what objects you have before you”, he told her. “Merely think here is a little square of blue, here an oblong of pink, here a streak of yellow, and paint it just as it looks to you, the exact color and shape, until it gives your own naïve impression of the scene before you”.
Galnoor’s interest in Monet’s oeuvre allows her to examine aesthetic and critical questions and give them a contemporary and local interpretation. When tracing the panoramic painting at the Orangerie she ‘translates’ the water lilies and their reflection in the water into plain black circles surrounded by a colorful halo, seemingly a faded echo of the original. Using this painterly method, she attempts to trace the primary essence of Monet’s work and extract his basic motive when he examines the space of a painting, of a pond or of the wall. Monet’s reiteration of the same range of images now enables Galnoor to translate the experience of circumferential space with reference to the museum’s modernist proportions. The viewer surrounded by this panoramic work experiences it in two dimensions: from afar, in a panoramic and circumferential gaze, and from close up, in a slow walk along the walls, enabling a closer examination of the relations between the color spots and the white wall on which they are painted.
This painterly installation gains its additional meaning by being placed at the Mishkan Museum of Art. Whereas Galnoor remains loyal to the scale of the original painting, she shifts it towards the local and contemporary. At the Orangerie, this work is presented in an oval room with natural lighting coming down from the ceiling, in an attempt to create a harmonious, dreamy and meditative atmosphere; the exhibition room at Ein Harod, on the other hand, is square, with natural light ‘pouring’ down from the upper walls and the proportions are more human and down-to-earth. Another apparent relation between this installation and its venue is to the water lily pond at the entrance to the museum. Galnoor forms this relation through her work Chora, which accompanies the wall installation – an arrangement of postcards that seem like tourist souvenirs, which shed light on the pond also as part of the European fantasy of the museum’s founders.
Curator: Yaniv Shapira