Yossi Waxman

Writer, Artist, Designer 

Middle-aged Angles

Ein Hod Gallery, 2014

 

An Interview for Yedioth Aharonoth (2014)

 

New and large acrylics on canvass by Yossi waxman - writer, artist, and designer - were on display at the Ein Hod Gallery between July 12 and July 30, 2014.

 

Waxman, member of the artists village, has so far published six novels and two children's books. His paintings are regularly on display in the village gallery. His most recent novel, The History of Art, was published by Xargol-Modan. The new exhibition will carry works from last year.

 

- Yossi Waxman, why middle-aged angels?

 

Because angles in Heaven may also grow old; that is - they may take a break from their beauty, from their body strength, from what humans usually think about them. Angles too may wrinkle, gain weight, grow soft, have a beer-belly, and become old lechers.

 

It is not simple to be middle-aged in a world that worships youth, beauty, and strength. After all, the Garden of Eden is the fountain of youth that we all long to drink from. Even I want that sometimes, particularly when I stand in front of the mirror in the morning, looking at my saggy face, thigh cellulite, and the belly that hides my dick from me. I cannot remember a single portrayal of Adam and Eve as old people. In the classic works of art that depict the Garden of Eden, they are always young, with rosy cheeks and smooth skins.

 

- So this exhibition is an act of rebellion?

 

Yes. I rebel against myself. I often find myself in pathetic situations that remind me of Gustav von Aschenbach in Thomas Mann's Death in Venice, an aging writer who falls for a young man. I find myself posting 10-year-old pictures of myself on Facebook. I go the gym, desperately working on my nonexistent abs. I grow some bristles in an attempt to appear cool and trendy…, but this is a silent, personal rebellion with a predetermined ending. My rebellion is actually a kind of acceptance.

 

- So you went ahead and created your own Garden of Eden?

 

Yes. A Garden of Eden that is full of compromises with and acceptance of life and what it has to offer. It is an Eden of asses, cats, birds, and middle-aged men (he laughs). Some 6 years ago, my partner of 28 years and me settled in the artists village of Ein Hod. Today, we are both middle-aged men who found our own little and final piece of Heaven on Earth. It was then that I started painting again, after several years of writing (Waxman published five non-fiction books in 10 years), and I discovered my old "self," the man who was "the class artist," who studied at Bezalel in the 1980s, and I have not stopped painting ever since. I started with local landscapes, moved on to domestic and garden animals, and now I arrived at self-portraits as reflected in the angels who have grown old and sobered up.

 

- Are you saying that Ein Hod is actually an aging Garden of Eden?

 

That is very true. Despite the fact that some of the village founding members were older artists such as Marcel Jancu and Gertrude Kraus, this place wished to sanctify the madness of eternal youth that looks like Dadaism, intoxication with the beauty of nature, of artists who found refuge from the provinciality of suffocating Tel Aviv. Originally, Ein Hod was not only an artists' village, but a refuge for hippies, gay people, or people who wanted to hide from the public eye. We must remember that when the village was first founded, Israel was impoverished, busy building shanty towns for waves of incoming immigrants, and licking the wounds of its War of Independence. At the time, there was no room for hedonistic egotism that celebrates the "self". Ein Hod was a place that dared celebrating life, but even that Garden of Eden has grown old, aged, and became disillusioned. Today, most of the significant artists who inhabit this place are aging or old.

 

In my new paintings, I tried to dialogue with that intoxication that was celebrated in abandoned Arab shacks and under every fresh tree. My homoerotic works address the homoeroticism of old Ein Hod. In this respect, I could mention dancer and choreographer Gertrude Kraus who lived here with her partner, Elsa Scharf, or artist Meir Dahan, who committed suicide quite young. Apparently his heart was broken by a futile homosexual love affair.

 

- It sounds like you have a full stomach on today's Ein Hod.

 

Absolutely not. Just the opposite. I believe it is a natural aging process. The dream of the Garden of Eden cannot survive past the first generation of dreamers, and I feel that this sobering up is a necessary reality. This is probably why I keep seeing aging and fat angles with dangling wings that can no longer fly walking around this village, and I greatly honor and respect them.

 

In my new novel too I write about this Ein Hod, the one that is regaining its sense of reality, looking itself right in the eye, without embellishment, but with a pinch of compassion and love.

 

- Do you, Yossi Waxman, have no more dreams?

 

Oh no. I have lots of dreams because fat, middle-aged men like myself dream too (Waxman was 55 at the time of this interview). A veteran artist here in the village who is nearly 80 years old laughed at me a while ago when I told her that I'm afraid I'd missed the train and that I look pathetic even in my own eyes. She laughed and told me I was still a fledgling and that I still have at least 30 years to find out that I am an idiot. I believe she was right.

 

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Translation: Baruch Gefen