Byzantine Drawings, 2017, ballpoint pen, felt-tip marker, pencil and collage on book pages
Book Covers, 2019, ballpoint pen, felt-tip marker, pencil and colored pencil on book covers

Well Being

In this exhibition, Gary Goldstein presents recent works created over the past three years, in which his biography plays an important role. The ensemble of works reveals that Goldstein’s visual and written language has taken on a somewhat freer quality; the remarkable density that sometimes characterized his works in the past has dissolved, and his series also include blank pages and abstract fields of color in the background.

A reading of the texts integrated into the paintings introduces us to a childhood filled with sorrow, in a family where both parents were Holocaust survivors reckoning with memories of impossible suffering and the ghosts of their loved ones. Goldstein writes especially about his father, and the process of reconciliation that he has come to experience in his regard, especially following the birth of his grandchildren. He notes his own manner of sitting while he paints – a pose that reminds him of his father, a tailor, bent over his work as he immersed himself in it. His father would take apart suits with the same concentration that Goldstein discovered in himself while disassembling books and taking apart their spines in preparation for his paintings.

Goldstein’s works continue to explore his concern with the written word and with books, while going beyond the genre of “automatic writing” and turning to narrative writing, which is concerned with memory and its validity in a personal, associative, confessional style: “The waves inundate and drown me, stifling the air, my breath. I am old. No longer a child. I am harrowed by the waste, given the pain of that time. Every time I remember – I cannot forget. I am gray. Made of lead.” In the sound work created by the artist Etty BenZaken, which is heard in the gallery space, Goldstein’s words acquire an abstract dimension, as fragments of words severed from their meaning.

Writing about the motif of faces, which recur throughout the exhibition, he notes: “I came to understand that my work conceals a forest of faces, a forest of portraits depicting people I had never met, and which I had seemingly never thought about; yet I had never stopped thinking about them. Their figures appear, change, and recur in painting after painting, year after year, in the pages of the old books on which I create my works.” Not all of the works and symbols are decoded.


The exhibition includes two floor installations, in which painted book covers are placed upon drinking glasses. These and other elements do not explicitly accord with the biographical character of the exhibition, giving rise to its Hebrew title – Hishta’ut (Wonder). Wonder also arises from Goldstein’s analytic observations as he wonders about those recurrent images, shapes and colors, which do not lend themselves to being deciphered.
The exhibition’s different Hebrew and English titles point to the changes that Goldstein underwent both during and after the painting process. The painterly action itself, and especially its repetitive nature, contributes to his resilience and frees him of distress, hence the title Well Being. Once the painting is completed, Goldstein examines his works in search of their emotional meaning– “deciphering” them in writing to explain their psychic content, and repeatedly touching upon recurrent themes – flowers, portraits, knives – as a means of exploring his own unconscious. Subjects such as the whale, another recurrent motif in his work, lead to childhood memories, revealing their hidden meaning. 

Curator: Shira Friedman
Opening: Thursday, February 6, 2020
Closing: Saturday, March 21, 2020
Gallery talk with the artist: Friday, March 21, 2020

Opening Hours: Sun-Thu, 9:00 AM-5:00 PM; Fri, 11:00 AM-1:30 PM; Sat, 1:00 PM-4:00 PM