ABOUT THE ART OF CHAVA PRESSBURGER
Chava Pressburger's art may be seen as a deliberate strategy for distilling the pure kinetics of empathy. It is a detached perception of Historical Time, employing geometrical forms to mirror the metaphysical Platonic absolutes embedded in it. Human freedom, on the other hand, emerges in this art in a recalcitrant fluid of images of uncertain limits, demanding openness to the horizon of all codified experience. Thus in each of Pressburger's works we find a microcosmos where norms, aesthetic and moral, formal and substantial, struggle to appear and set themselves as criteria, mediating our encounter with historical reality. These works contain, therefore, an image of the authentic in man, of suffering and becoming. Memories, hopes and fears thrust us between God and stone, culture and nature, past and present, the beginning and the end of time, being and nonbeing, always in search.
Objectivity is seen here as an ever deceptive effort to reach a timeless present. Shapes and colors continuously flow and float, engaged in a deliberate and fluent dialogue, guided by the presence of highly vital threads. This technique presents countless possibilities, creating, enclosing and disclosing objects and thought, both real and fantastic. This art may not be able to save man, as Aristotle hoped, nor destroy him, as Plato feared, but it does seem to move him, and make him move, more than any art of statically conceived forms. It would probably be a mistake, therefore, to regard Pressburger's art merely as a superior form of amusement, as it would probably be a mistake to regard it as a form of meditation, a vessel that transport us out of our skins, into a vision of timeless, eternal norms. Rather, it is a dialogue with the world on which it bids us participate: taking a still-life glance at time, deeply aware that time goes on. It is a vision which gives itself the lie. Thus in every Pressburger painting there is, in a very concentrated form, something of the tragic in existence. It distills and isolates a single moment out of time. That is why we have the impression that the painting transmits to us a sense which happens only once, the first and last of its kind.
Each canvas here seems to be an arena of continuous struggle, where fear and peril give birth, at each moment, to an unexplained power of life. Pressburger uses her canvas to pit conflicting forces against each other exactly when, with supreme sensibility, she can dominate them and bring them into equilibrium. When a new norm is born, for one eternal moment.
Composition, in these works, is dynamic and highly emphasized. Colors change from density to softness, flexible in transition from opaque to the transparent. This creates a sort of fantastic atmosphere, where carious human feelings emerge and unfold. Nature, human reality is, for Pressburger, subjected to rules and hidden meanings which maintain its order. These rules and meanings are not visible, but belong to an inner, semi-mystical system. Yet nature transcends those meanings, which it builds and destroys forever. The tread, in Pressburger's painting, leads us through this naze of life. In her art, a free work of art reveals itself as the freedom ofcreation, whereby reality becomes feeling, and feeling movement. The various patches, held by threads, exposing themselves in colored shapes, facilitate this mystical marriage of light and darkness, the real and the abstract signs. In this dialogue you are now called to participate.
Lecrurer in Art History Department
Faculty of Fine Arts
CHAVA PRESSBURGER'S PAPER ART
Paper…so well-behaved… the most humble and submissive of materials. Fashioned entirely by human hands, it is only there to serve; in fact, it is so innocuous as to be virtually invisible. The merest of scrawled notations or ideas immediately overpower it, literally wipe their feet on it. Even as it comes into the world, paper is wrung out, boiled, seized, and subdued. It learns to keep quiet, not to interfere, never to make its presence felt. Like a faithful servant, it silently waits for orders, ready to take down the thoughts, impressions, and sketches of any and every master, no matter how capricious.
And then the artist-provocateur -or provocatrice- breaks into this house of servitude. Chava Pressburger takes paper and fans the flames of self-consciousness, teaching the paper to know its language, its essence, its true identity. She gives it a new sense of pride and rekindles memories of a distant, long-lost patrimony. She reminds the paper of the primeval song its ancestors once sang, of the joyous call of plants and wildflowers. She plumbs pulsating wellsprings of life and brings out the poetry of the desert and of fertile lands. She gives the paper body, form, shape, teaching it to take pride in its naked flesh, however scarred or sinuous or layered. No longer permitting it to drowse in its faithful servant stupor, she removes the smooth, enslaving makeup that hides any sign of identity under a sleek patina. Mercilessly she charges the paper to be itself, to stop obscuring its nature, to stop curbing its pounded-in power; she lets it break out in a wild, carnal cry of freedom.
Pressburger's art is subversive, provocative, seductive. In her love for the servile paper, she senses its hidden truth and, constantly probing, helps it reveal its untapped, unacknowledged riches. Generations of art historians had taught paper it was worthless; they have trained it to submit to the artist by obediently bearing an alien work of art. Then Pressburger came along and showed it that it was no less worthy than all those arrogant artworks that had been lording it over paper year after year. She told it that it, too, could be a work of art in its own right, with its own resonant voice.
Haughty, aloof, and alienated, the industrial age constantly sought to reshape, reformulate, revise, recreate – even to create ex nihilo. It forced material to accept grand abstract ideas. At the end of the twentieth century. In our new fin de siecle, the great empires and machines have fallen apart. We see that alienating ourselves from primal materials is a lie and that by evading the source, the earth, the foundation, we are also fleeing from what is human. In a massive ecological revolt, the raped and plundered environment refuses to submit to its oppressors; now, belatedly those who subjugated the earth see where they have erred. Chava Pressburger's paper challenges the viewer to reach down into the depths of all that is simple, post-industrial, post-idealistic, and discover the powerful beauty of the source.
Prof. Eddy Zemach – Faculty of Philosophy and literature, Hebrew University Jerusalem