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Micha Ulman
Artist's Room

May 11, 2015-September 7, 2015

Location: Israeli Art Galleries, Artist Room

Artist: Micha Ullman

Curator: Amitai Mendelsohn

“For I will bless you indeed, and I will surely make your descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore” (Genesis 22:17)

In Day, Havdalah, and Midnight at the center of this gallery, a simple house is presented in three states: upside-down and open (Day); on its side (Havdalah); and closed (Midnight). Ullman translates the transition from light to darkness and from the sanctity of the Sabbath to the mundane rest of the week, which the Jewish havdalah ceremony marks, into minimal forms. Over them he scatters sand, symbolic – as in an hourglass – of the passage of time. This artist’s work is as much about spirit and absence as it is about mass and material. It is abstract yet strongly physical and tactile. Often connected to the earth and to soil, Ullman’s art deals with fundamental myths and with our relationship to time and the cosmos, and in some cases to history and burning political issues.

Displayed on the surrounding walls, the series entitled “Month” blends earth and sky, spirituality and corporeality (including the artist’s own body). Each of the 29 “moon drawings” renders a different day in the same lunar month. Using his hands, Ullman painted, smeared, imprinted, incised, and erased his materials – tempera and red sand on paper. The passing phases of the moon are combined with the artist’s momentary touch. A playful boy reveling in his sandbox, he is also a creator, partaking, if only fleetingly, in the making of cosmic lights.

The drawings’ titles and forms allude to biblical stories in which heaven and earth meet; to days of the week; to astronomy and astrology; to common hand gestures. Occasionally, they hint at political events, such as Purim, the day when Baruch Goldstein murdered 29 Muslim worshipers in Hebron in 1994. Encapsulating a month in the life of Micha Ullman, the series is a creative landmark in his work.

Month, 1994–95
29 drawings; tempera and red sand on paper
Gift of Shirley and Frank Lowy, Sydney, in honor of Dov Gottesman’s 75th birthday