Emergency Regulations 2018

Minshar for art gallery, Tel Aviv
Curator Oded Yedaya

Hana Jaeger – The Impression of Reality

Hanna Jaeger’s exhibition of paintings is socially and politically oriented in her choice of subjects: policemen and detainees, defendants and lawyers in courts of law, prisoners in jails, the injured in beds, doctors in operating rooms, nurses conferring secretively, construction workers on ladders, garbage collectors with carts, etc.

But as has already been stated 150 years ago – while the camera has freed the eye from the need to shape and interpret reality for the viewer by means of material, it has thus also freed the painting from the need to show reality and has enabled it to concentrate on the impression of reality, on the feelings it evokes, on existential thoughts as well as on the painting itself, on the art activity. Hana Jaeger sets out from her studio in the city’s south to wander around gathering wooden surfaces and cardboard boxes from sidewalks but also stretched canvases from a painting materials store. Her eye concurrently collects the images it catches: the above-mentioned objects as well as newspaper and television sights (also mediated reality is a very near reality in Israel, spiritually close to painterly sensitivity).

And back to the studio, to work. Jaeger’s task is to connect her accumulated sights to the gathered materials, turning them into monochromatic paintings. Why monochromatic? Because isn’t reality so noisy, the characters so moving in their symbolism, and their uniforms so prominent in the uniformity of their color and their unity?

At first thought this action seemingly attempts to calm reality, to contain it, to absorb it through some kind of filter saying: one should relax, put external things into proportion, and rest awhile.

At second thought, engendered by a review of the images, an opposite effect comes to mind – monochromaticity itself is seemingly the causal factor of the wandering in the street and the gathering of cartons, plywood boards and canvas; it is monochromaticity that engenders the gathering of prisoners in faded orange, policemen in gray uniforms, cleaning workers in dirty green, nurses in white as well as patients, doctors and lawyers, religious women clothed in black and young women in black pantyhose and panties.

Here, the act of painting is an attempt to confine reality (or the soul) within material capturing it in color and switching, in the selfsame image, from the emotional to the rational and from the serious to the ironic. It is indeed strange to discover the ironic dimension bursting forth reading between the lines: the full leg plaster cast stretched upward in order to match the angle of the drip tube, the paint dripping down the face of a Japanese man in the subway, the bearing of the policemen, the whispering of the lawyers, the hospital beds painted with a marker, etc.

They say that cinema has the power to create consciousness and political change; they say that the press and television have political power; they say that photography has the ability to provide proof. Jaeger’s painting offers the option of observation, a way of life – let us leave home and meet in the workshop.

And back to the starting points – when writing monochromaticity we are reminded of  the American Alex Katz, of the Israeli Uri Reisman (and there are obviously more) – but they painted: women, flowers, children, landscape, fields; and when saying: plywood boards, cardboard boxes, meager colorfulness – we are reminded of ready made, material poverty, etc. But their course was to abandon the public and Zionist space in favor of the domestic, private, urban-secular day-to-day. Jaeger reroutes that view and those techniques back outwards – into the political-social and very topical discourse space.