Every Body knows 2009

«Shishi Rishon»

Ramat Gan Museum of Modern Art

Curator Ayelet Hashahar Cohen

The subjects of Hana Jaeger’s paintings share a common secret. Their heavy dense bodies send a message of a defeated mass of despair and helplessness. Those in her paintings who have bodies that are slim and supple are bent like leaves blowing in the wind. The figures, blurred and devoid of identity, turn their backs on the viewers, overly full of themselves.

The people whom the artist chooses to paint are anchored in a concrete area (street, room, corner) and confined in a personal limbo. Lacking the power to take off, closed in and self-reliant, they are forcefully pulled down to earth by their weight.

As her paintings unfold, Hana Jaeger depicts the backyard of the soul. She chooses to paint the moment that is painfully unglamorous. Every now and then her painterly gaze erects a wall but in most cases the whole of the painting is portrayed – with its human parts static and frozen against their bright and vibrant backgrounds.

The surroundings depicted in the paintings, mostly perceived as a street and as a metaphorical exterior, act as an expanse of concealment and exposure at one and the same time. On the one hand the figure portrayed is set in a private introverted state and on the other hand it is exposed to the public eye in the street. Danger lurks over the paintings. The desperate engulfing bear hug between two oldsters could finally turn into strangulation; the scene in which a little girl leans towards an automobile, from which a man’s arm stretches out, feels immediately sinister. However, innocence and beauty also exist in the works; they stem from the legendary-mythical foundation, from the rough delineations, from the humor and from the expressive brushstrokes in realistic scenes.

The title of the exhibition informs one that any piece of information becomes public property. Despite the public announcement intended to appeal to the lowest common denominator, the title of the exhibition is also aimed at a higher register – at the unknown, and because the «what» (what does everyone know?) remains unknown, a vacuum between two expanses has been created, functioning as a waiting room between interior and exterior. The common ‘everything or nothing’ secret in Jaeger’s work is worrisome and cannot easily be waved behind the viewer’s back. The title of the exhibition, Everybody Knows, does not serve as a consolation even though the knowledge itself could. After all, beyond the knowledge stretches a sea of possibilities of discomfort, of serious trouble, and of immediate dangers.

Ayelet Hashahar Cohen
Ramat Gan Museum of Modern Art
November 2009