Matan Ben Tolila is an artist who lives and works in Jerusalem. In the past, the Israeli artist explored themes related to conflict and escapism. For his current exhibition Bat Kol, Ben Tolila changed his creative process entirely. The precision of his brush strokes is reflective of his former approach. For Bat Kol, he let the initial forms, literally, take their own shape on the canvas. Learn more about the exhibition which recently opened at Noga Gallery in Tel Aviv, Israel below.
Why did you choose the name Bat Kol?
In the Jewish tradition, there are narratives, mainly in moments of conflict, in which a divine voice (In Hebrew: Bat Kol) comes out, as a non-official spokesperson of God, and represents a different perspective on the events. Since there is a strong visual narrative in the series of paintings in my exhibition, I thought it would be right to have moments of revelation, moments of words spoken from a higher source.
What inspired you to change your creative process?
After feeling for a long time that I was not excited anymore by the act of painting, feeling that it had been a long time of walking on familiar paths, I decided to completely change my method of painting. I placed the white canvas on the floor, poured diluted paint on it and let the arbitrary stain be the starting point for the painting. In the created stain, I saw in my imagination caves or melting mountains, and I got the sense of visiting new, unfamiliar, unconscious places, strange to me but belonging to me (and only me) as well.
There are a lot of caves in this work, and then open spaces with water as well. What do the caves and the water represent?
The caves and the open sceneries were not born out of a conscious decision, but intuitively. An artist’s studio is some kind of a cave or womb and I suppose that when I paint a cave or some other place of separation, I detach myself. But it also enables me to wander in a beautiful, mysterious space.
Water and open landscapes often appear in my paintings and they are the place where I can express continuing flowing and gentle movement.
Can you tell us a little bit more about a few pieces?
“Stars”: This is the smallest work in my exhibition and it describes a simple moment where the viewer’s point of view is from a dark cave towards a hole in the wall. Through the hole, the starry skies are seen. The combination of beauty and light along with darkness and great distance, are the essence of this work.
“Facing East”: I wanted to create a painting of an embroidered fabric screen hiding an open panoramic landscape. The screen is in the front of the painting, acting as an obstacle or interruption to the right order. On the screen are two suns embroidered and from the name of the work you can understand it is about a rising sun. In this work, there is a clash between the natural aspects of the view showing from behind the stretched screen, and the artificial embroidered landscape on the fabric. The natural and the artificial, the revealed and the hidden, are present together in the simple moment of sunrise.
“Look”: In this work, there is also a clash between the natural, represented by my figure and by the dog beside me, and the many poles placed in the space artificially. This is my self-portrait, a little bent, staring at the viewer, as if seeing something the viewer can’t see yet. The poles are not straight in the ground, they are tilted as if subjected to the ravages of time. The long shapes of the poles here are an expression of a disturbance, and they add a wondering about the nature of the background space and its quality.
Bat Kol at Noga Gallery
60 Ehad Ha’am st.
Tel-Aviv 6520219 Israel
(first image: “Back Light”)