Text for "Formally Speaking", 2011, The Haifa Museum of Art
Shai Yehezkelli's painting is busy, rhythmic and fast, wild and free. He works on various surfaces, some of which he finds in the street, and his paintings shifts from "bad painting" to subtle poetic touches. His palate is full of pinks and reds, as if leaping out of a painting by Mattisse. The images span a wide range of references and quotations, each of them disrupt or alter the source; the pitchers look like disrupted quotes of still life painting. the upturned palms reference Orientalist landscapes, fountains and images of Buddha ridicule the binary representations of East and west, and the profile image of a bearded Jew seems like the leading chapter discussing Jewish painting. Yehezkelli paints with and within art history, but also beyond it. He collects inspiration and influence from everything at hand-from Van Gogh, Matisse through to Rauschenberg, Sigmar Polke, Raffi Lavie and Moshe Gershuni, including contemporary artists such as Marcel Eichner, Adam Handler or Ted Gahl-to such extent that it seems as though he works outside the range of "The Anxiety of Influence", to the same extent that he works beyond the illusion of originality. Rough handwritten captions, sometimes written in Hebrew and sometimes in English, convey political and inter-textual messages. When all of those are displayed side by side, the aggregate of captions and titles turn into a discourse on art, which is as valuable as the language of the painting itself.