Shai Azoulay / The Few That Hold the Many
Feb 01 – Apr 29, 2022
Sommer Contemporary Art is pleased to announce the representation of the artist Shai Azoulay and the opening of his first solo exhibition “The Few That Hold the Many” at our gallery space at Herzl 16, Tel-Aviv, on Tuesday February 1st, 2022.
Shai Azoulay’s daily practice in his studio involves painting in variable dimensions and scales. While developing new ideas, among failures and renewed attempts, small scale paintings are created in the moments between the planned and the random. As part of his creative process in the studio for the last two decades, Azoulay uses the paint left on the paintbrush and the palette from an unfinished painting to create a new one.
In his exhibition “The Few That Hold the Many,” Azoulay presents a selection of small-scale paintings, sized 20X20 cm., oil on canvas glued to plywood. Each of these paintings holds a story, like murmurs between the artist and himself, an attempt to grasp an elusive form or moment, to express an idea or an image. Azoulay calls these paintings ‘an hour a day’, a devotion to the practice of solitude and looking inward, drawn from the routine established in the Hasidic movement. These small, fleeting and momentary paintings, which maintain the continuum of renewal in creativity and in action, are within the constraints of ‘the few that hold the many’.
Azoulay’s process culminates in colorful and vibrant paintings, which present narratives with characters and scenes that convey human warmth, compassion, and slight irony. Azoulay’s work evolves from an articulate drawing to full and lush color surfaces, from sophisticated to naïve and between the omnipotent to the limited. Azoulay’s paintings elude the classical definition in the local western landscape painting, characterized by the separation between a formal medium investigation and a figurative approach. The display of these small-scale paintings as one cohesive collection, presents a personal reflexive and realistic voice, which seeks to examine the painter’s action in the studio and his place in society.
These moments include, for example, the painting “Full Moon” (2019) in which a figure appears in a boat, a motif that is repeated in many of Azoulay’s paintings. The boat represents the private space, protected from the oceans of the world; “The painting Coming Back” (2020) depicts a figure in bed, in an elusive moment in which the soul returns to the physical body. The two large paintings in the exhibition provide a kind of prologue or frame story in relation to the act of painting.
Shai Azoulay (born in Israel, 1971) lives and works in Jerusalem. He received his BFA and MFA from the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design Jerusalem. Selected solo exhibitions include the Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art (2018), The Tel Aviv Museum of Art (2011), The Jerusalem Artists House (2007), as well as solo shows in New York, London, Tokyo, Vienna, Chicago and Beijing. Selected group exhibitions: The Israel Museum (2019), The Jewish Museum Belin (2016), Haifa Museum of Art (2011). Azoulay was the recipient of the prestigious Landau Prize for Arts and Science (2020), The Foundation for Independent Artists (2020), The Ministry of Culture Award (2018), The Legacy Heritage Fund Prize, Tel Aviv Museum of Art (2007) and Osnat Mozes Young Artist Painting Prize, The Jerusalem Artists’ House (2007).