Lena Zaidel. “Bon Voyage”

Written for the catalogue of the “Bon Voyage” exhibition at the Jerusalem Artists’ House, 2010

Wastes, empty spaces – lonely figures, airplanes, cars and boats emerge here and there in the void. The artist treats the space with great awareness, placing only carefully chosen images into its emptiness. And still, it is the tense void that has always been the main character of Yahilevich’s paintings.

In his works, Yahilievich combines actual and universal elements. At first glance, one can recognize all the details easily: an airport, a swimming pool, Maale-Adummim’s landscape. Yet, at the same time, one gets an impression that it is not only “here”, but also somewhere else, in an universal cosmic space that the action takes place.

People and objects featured in the paintings are not what they might look like. They are just symbols, signs of a secret alphabet. They are inscrutable hieroglyphs that convey a covert mystic meaning.

Philosophical irony is evident in almost in all the paintings that belong to the “Bon Voyage” series. One also becomes aware of the artist’s hidden smile that reminds of that of a puppeteer. This stance manifests itself most clearly in the “Three Boats” painting. On the one hand, it depicts a very simple situation, even a comic one – three men bath in the sun serenely, each in a boat of his own. On the other, a chain of association emerges that contains images such as Moses’ cradle drifting in the Nile waters and the souls of the dead making their way to the next world along the Lethe river. On the other hand, it represents leisure, the joy of life, the holidays; on the other, it talks about the end of life, death.

According to Yahilevich, the “Bon Voyage” series does not depict any foreign landscapes, but rather focuses on the travelling process as an experience. Almost stereotypical, daily passages made in course of a holiday are, in fact, analogous to our routes in the space of life. Airports and highways, seas and swimming pools, steps upwards and downwards bring up association with the course of our life as a whole.

It is the combination of the everyday experience with something that one could refer to as cosmic silence and void – which have always been containing the people’s movements and passages –  that provides Yahilevich’s works with a deep spiritual meaning. His tender irony appears through it. This artist surely understands something in the rule of the road in the Eternal Void.