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you make the fire
and I’ll show you something wonderful:
a big ball of snow!

Matsuo Basho

To paint the things we cannot count or divide. The uncountable, like water, like sand. Measuring them, is to contain them. The sensations, memories, thoughts... We grasp at them, while they shift, slide, spill, …vanish

Alejandra Okret - Zebras


Is a zebra a black animal with white stripes or a white animal with black stripes? This is not a moot question – it is a profound contemplation on the way we see the world. It would seem that no zebra is purely white or black, just as there can be no light without darkness, no good without evil and vice versa. Man must be able to contain both natures, as well as all the colors, hues and features in between.

This exhibition focuses on Alejandra Okret’s coping with the recent loss of two close family members – her mother and, a mere few months later, her sister.

In his lecture at the Adi Foundation Conference (2003), Avrum Burg said: “When one hunts down a zebra, both the white zebra and the black zebra die”. This statement motivated Okret to create her new series of zebra paintings. These works contain both of the zebra’s colors, with no contention between them. Through her work, Okret examines her existentialist worldview; each painting is a search for answers. In dozens of paintings, Okret expropriates the individual animal from the herd, choosing instead to depict it from top-down angles, or in intense close-ups. The zebra, or parts of it, are drawn from a different angle each time. Like a zoologist, Okret attempts to follow the pattern of the animal’s striped coat, its gaze and the build of its body, while at the same time allowing the ink to disperse on the paper and shape itself “as it wishes”.

Okret’s work is heavily influenced by the culture of the Far East, and borrows elements from the world of Kabala as well. The series entitled “Rig’i Hineni” (Hebrew: “Moments of Existence") consists of basic drawings depicting a solitary figure in a contemplative state, surrounded by floating orbs, reminiscent of planets. Despite the affinity between the figure and the orbs, the question concerning the nature of their relationship and the symbolism behind it remains unanswered. In these particular works, the pink hue that serves as a background for the paintings and is featured as a motif in many of Okret’s work appears “dirty”, both transparent and opaque at the same time. The tension between these opposites evokes feelings of restlessness in the viewer. The perfection of the orbs is disrupted by the irregular stains of color. To Okret, these flaws are an inseparable part of the piece; much like the Japanese Kintsukuroi pottery, its built-in fractures emphasized by gold or silver dust infused lacquer.

In this exhibition Okret has invited two colleague artists with whom she has a deep personal and professional connection and dialogue: Anat Michaelis-Levi (based in Tel Aviv) and Marga Steiwasser (based in Argentina).

Tamar Gispan-Greenberg

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