The Bathers and Eyal Sasson’s System of Painting
During the last fifteen years, after graduating from Bezalel and later from London’s
Royal College of Art (RCA), the painter Eyal Sasson has dedicated his work to a
deconstruction of the visual image. In each series of his paintings, Sasson has put
together a set of principles he then employed for carrying out this task, also the
labor of constructing the painting at the same time. In that vein, Sasson has
broken down images of forests into their respective red, green and blue
(R.G.B) pixels, and confined their natural wildness to the rules of digital
photography; created stratified paintings by applying subsequent thin layers
of acrylic paint which adds physical depth as well as materialistic memory
to the flat exposed image; distorted landscapes and views by using the
principles of Camera Obscura and anamorphous technique, so to
undermine the impressionistic manners of the illusionary painting; and used
“black mirror” (also known as Claude Glass named after artist Claude Lorraine)
to paint black, nocturnal, sceneries, where the gaze is demanded to make an
effort in order to put together an image whose only bright parts are seen vaguely.
In his oeuvre’s current episode, Sasson returns to “The Bathers” – one of the most
central themes in art history. Furthermore, the Moderna has given a significant role
to the bathers, within which they were chosen to serve as the (classic and familiar)
platform for developing painterly languages, artistic approaches and revolutionary
cultural theories. Yet, Sasson’s work does neither revere a modern ideal which
aims to obtain essences through painterly systems taken towards the bathers,
nor suggests a post-modern strategy designated to undermine essences or ideas.
Instead, Sasson’s painting is self-reflective, and as such, it is solely responsible to
raise its rationale from within, as well as to align with its own doctrine’s principles.
In the past, Sasson’s painting practice was conducted under an analytic set
of rules, as in the example of reduction to R.G.B. colors, or anamorphic
deformation. Now on the other hand, we are presented with a series of
paintings whose principles are less rationalistic and more fluidic, let alone
watery and aquatic. The present painterly system, if then, is dictated by the
bathers themselves, and they, from their part, are asking to dip, dive, bathe,
wash, to be reflected, take the form of water, to blend in. In this current example,
the bather is an agent of a watery painting system which may bring up questions
such as: what occurs when a bather leaps into a bluish spot? How is it possible
to hop over a greencolored field upon purple rocks? And what if the colors of the
sky, colors of man and earth, and colors of water, would suddenly switch roles?
Can a pond be yellow? How a bather is painted and alternately, how is a
painting “bathed” – meaning, how will a painting, when placed in a watery system,
behave? And in the broader sense: how does human nature fit in nature?
In his last solo exhibition, not only continues Sasson’s formalistic engagement
in the language of painting including the formal challenges with which he
chooses to confront, but also expresses the connection between man and
nature – a subject which runs like a thread throughout his entire oeuvre.
In particular, Sasson primarily relates the alienation surrounding man in nature,
the estrangement of man observing nature, and at the end of the day, Sasson
uncovers the distance which prevails any sense of belonging between the two.
Furthermore, there is not a single image of the sun found in this exhibition, yet
Sasson has chosen to title it “Deceiving Sun”, particularly in this context of man
and nature relations – referring the sun as having a human characteristic:
a “deceiving” sun that does not spread heat, amidst “deceiving” bathers
who allegedly enjoy staying around nature, under the sun, a lying sun.
Ron Bartos, 2015