Writer, Artist, Designer
The Life and Death of Yossi Waxman
Solo Exhibition at the Janco-Dada Museum, 2018-19
In this exhibition, the artist Yossi Waxman offers a voyeuristic glimpse of his life journey, his family, and personally significant events. Waxman invites the viewers on a journey from the cradle to the grave – an absurd, humorous, sexual and instinctual trajectory that unfolds through peepholes, photographs, and paintings positioned throughout the space.
The images, and especially the portraits, appear in pictures taken from old family photographs and from ones that Waxman himself has photographed in the course of his life. The paintings capture the artist from childhood to adulthood, as well as various figures representing his relatives, which were inspired by family photographs. These paintings offer a twisted and grotesque image of the artist’s family members, whose expressions and moods are enhanced and they are portrayed with a simultaneously ironic and compassionate gaze.
Waxman’s acrylic paintings are distinguished by their expressive quality and by their rich, unrestrained, and highly material use of color. His brushstrokes are bold and energetic, and the forms are tremulous and distorted, giving rise to dramatic and emotionally charged figures that stare directly at the viewer, inviting him to return their gaze.
The peep boxes, which are seductive yet semi-concealed, feature homo-erotic photographs alongside fragments and quotations from family photographs. The viewer is invited to bend over, peer into the peepholes, and share in an experience that is at once intimate and clearly artificial.
One source of inspiration for these peep boxes was Marcel Duchamp’s work Etant Donné (1946-1966). In Duchamp’s installation, the viewer peers through a peephole in an old wooden door at an opening in a brick wall, through which one can glimpse a pastoral landscape, while in the foreground, lying on a bed of grass and twigs, is a naked woman. In Duchamp’s installation, the view through the crack offers a glimpse of forbidden and concealed world, which is both erotic and dark. Waxman carries the act of voyeurism to the extreme, leading the viewer into the world of peep shows, a dubious world whose imagery moves between eroticism and pornography.
In this manner, Waxman chooses to invite the viewer to invade his private sphere, in a forbidden act that unfolds by gazing through peepholes and locks: “For me, the experience of gazing through a peephole is the same experience described by people who have experienced clinical death. They see before them a tunnel with a gleaming ray of light at its end, as they review, in one instant, important figures and events in their lives.”