Interior Views

By Natan Zach

Artist of the blues, blues as both dominant color and mood. Repertory artist. The poet Rachel, through the decades always composing the same personal set of poems. In its center, the image of a woman – almost always turning aside, never directing her gaze toward the viewer – in the intimacy of a room that is often a studio, sometimes against a corner of landscape. Not exactly sadness, and much less than grief. Certainly not spiritual desolation. No strong hues of loneliness, certainly not defiance. A quiet presence of a woman-with-herself in her room, her world. Seldom looking outward, often looking inward. Not prying or taking stock, no trace of psychologism; yet, contemplative, here is the word: a portrait of a contemplative woman in the blue that isolates yet also conveys the pleasant chill of her room, the room where she works and lives. A woman conscious of her art, conscious of the importance of the arrangement of flowers or fruits on the table as a still-life, conscious of the room as interior, the outside as landscape. That is to say, a consciousness of things which participate in art, that draw their meaning from art, that undergo an evolution of image in art. Sometimes, in the same room, an additional painting, also a painting by Chaya Schwartz, a picture withing a picture as a veil upon a veil, a partition added to a partition, another barrier protecting against a reality too tyrannical, contributing to the illusion of a world satisfied with itself, fertilizing itself, giving birth to itself in its language of mirrors, the only one in which she leaves the loneliness of the room-studio for the social context, the external, the world.

In the landscapes, even more breading out, more appearance than mood. Here is the Land of Israel, not “the Erez Israel of Chaya Schwartz” as it is commonly said of artists. This is the Land of Israel itself, not bending under the weight of a thoughtlessly expressed subjectivity. Reflecting, but even more, being reflected. Although here, too, is a choice, a selection: a mountain, hill, stone, slope, sea, piece of lace, treed in stormy wind. All are beautiful things, places. In them, the views holy to Israeli art: Jerusalem, Safed, Zikhron Ya'akov. In the early paintings also a city, Tel Aviv, city of sand and secularism. Later, it melts away; perhaps it grew too quickly. What remains is the interior or the exterior, the interior being protected from too violent a penetration by the exterior, and the exterior – landscape without inhabitants, not urban. And here and there – blue.

An introduction to the book about Chaya Schwartz' paintings, published in 1984 by Keter, Jerusalem. (cat. number 534405)