Holy Hobby

2010, A solo exhibition, Tel Aviv Artists House Curated by Judith Matzkel

Holy Hobby

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Like many other young artists, Eran Inbar, a graduate (2008) of the art department at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, uses many kinds of materials and media, harnessing all of them to the processes of artistic creation. His works combine painting and ropework, as well as sculpture and the use of ready-made materials. The present exhibition, his first solo one, focuses on the character of the girl-doll Holly Hobbie. 
Inbar’s choices represent a world of personal contents and symbols. They create a surprising discourse that combines different styles and creates a new and different look in which the signature of Eran Inbar the artist can be seen. This discourse adopts symbols and elements from traditional religious iconographies, from the rites and rituals of Christianity (principally in its Orthodox form) and other religions, and from Gothic discipline. Ceremonies and ritual traditions can be found in the secular conduct of all of us. We sanctify traditions that have become the common property of the globalized world in a brief period, like the aiming at fashion and its dictates in all spheres of life. We all dress the same way (H&M, Zara, Gap and the like), read the same books, watch the same films, sit on the same sofa (from Ikea), consume the same television programs and buy at the same chain stores. Inbar mixes and combines images borrowed from these varied worlds with figurines from childhood games, stickers, costume jewelry, mirrors, lace – a creation that arises from a whirlpool of materials and colours woven together with personal painting. The result is simultaneously alluring and repellent. Eran Inbar is not one to polish his work. He places his creations in the corners of the studio, and dust and insects – spiders and tiny flies – cover them and also become part of the appearance of the artwork. Art seeps into the banality of the everyday, and vice versa.
Inbar’s unique language unites disparate worlds, such as the world of fantasy that mixes, as noted, with reality and that is influenced by the artist’s empathy for, and love of, horror stories and films; the world of religious and pagan cultures; and a world attentive to the rhythm of fashion, that adopts vintage, quotations from the past that seep into the disciplines of art and design. All this is taking place in an era of debate and dialogue between the different cultural disciplines, all influencing and challenging one another. These influences can be seen not only in street art, but also in design and in mass media. All media and languages serve as underpinnings for Inbar’s artistic creation and set before the spectator the challenge of deciphering his creative layering.
Eran Inbar makes demands of his spectators at the thematic level, too. One could simply say that he does not choose an easy way of making a personal statement through his art, nor does he make any allowances for his viewers. The contents are not easy to digest, and deal with the social status of the artist and his gender identity: “Hoarding, eclecticism, weaving, diligence, craft, hard work, obsession – all are concepts born from creation that is called ‘feminine.’ With the help of that language and with the help of the attempt to connect to the language of a time before gender certainty (adolescence), I try to escape the male gaze in order to study the violence it perpetrates on the creator and the characters and images of artistic creation,” Inbar explains. 
At the center of the artworks are characters that move between the masculine and the feminine. All appearances are deceiving; if sometimes a particular object can be stated to be feminine, at second glance its identity may change to masculine. The subversion and subversiveness in Eran Inbar’s art brings to the surface his concern with stereotypes, with society’s behavioral codes and its superficiality with regard to everything to do with gender: when is appearance feninine and when is it considered masculine or expected to signify masculinity? Whatever is anomalous will immediately be expelled by the codes of human (mainly Western) society. Changes of role and identity assume other relationships, that of the sacrificer and the sacrifice, also borrowed from Christianity and paganism. The expressions of the characters in the artworks change unceasingly: from grotesque to violent, to ridiculous, pathetic, sad and melancholic: “A sacred unity that exists between the victim and the monster and the madness that this unity creates” – mixture and unification of characters that signify changing moods and form the basis for the presence of God alongside Satan and of the victim alongside the madman. All these give birth to wandering between genders.
Meeting the unique choices of Inbar’s art creates discomfort, but also challenges us with questions about our status as a liberal and pluralistic society. How can we claim to be moral when we prepare to judge the Other and the Different? After all, we are all enslaved to a globalized, consumerist, violent, populistic and non-stop world. In Inbar’s exhibition each viwer will have to look for the answers that are correct for him/herself.

 

J. Matzkel, Curator

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