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Artist / Matan Ben-Tolila

Matan Ben-Tolila

b. 1978, Kvutzat Yavne, Israel; lives and works in Jerusalem.

In recent years, Matan Ben-Tolila focused on large-scale landscape paintings, which dwell at the meeting point where reality and abstraction co-exist. The landscape in the paintings contains makeshift structures, varying in shape and essence, which are drawn schematically, in a deliberately simply manner, in contrast to and conflict with the abstract landscape in which they are rooted. His work methods include repetition, filling, and erasure, as well as intentional disruptions, using excessive coloration, at times artificial and extreme. He explores issues pertaining to movement, stability, and control, as well as the absence or disappearance of these features, proposing several feasible options simultaneously. The transient structures spread in the landscape, conquering it, and at the same time posing a blockage or a buffer in it, dictating the scenery's scale, the point of view, and the narrative. Although at first glance it seems that the painted landscapes do not depict a concrete place, they contain a silent frequency of dissociation, anxiety, and tension that characterize life in Israel. His choice to live and work in Jerusalem—a unique city, full of contradictions, tensions, and historical and political strata—stands in stark contrast to the silence engulfing the studio. This tension between great noise and silence is at the core of his practice.

In his work on the truck, Ben-Tolila chose to paint a simple-looking cabin in an abstract landscape made of dynamic and rhythmic painterly gestures. The cabin is cut off from the surrounding space, inviting drawing inward, communion, as well as a neutral vantage point on everything in its vicinity. The intense color palette stands in contrast to the flat, light-flooded Israeli color scheme. Both the cabin and the scenery belong to another, perhaps inner place, where one may linger and reflect, as opposed to the intensity and high speed characteristic of life in Israel. A hollyhock is reflected in the window, a wild flower that can be found on many roadsides in Israel, and in different settled areas. Depicted on the other side of the truck are several hollyhocks, alongside moons. The moon and the hollyhock conduct a dance of drawing and withdrawing; like the cabin, they seek an intimate moment of beauty and grace.

Holds a BFA and an MFA from the Department of Fine Arts, Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Art lecturer and coordinator of the art stream at the High School of the Arts, Jerusalem. Recipient of the Lauren and Mitchell Presser Award for excellence in painting from the Department of Fine Arts, Bezalel, and excellence grants from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation. His work has been presented in numerous exhibitions in museums and galleries in Israel and abroad. He is represented by Naga Gallery of Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv.

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