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Articles written on Sara Konforty's, one woman show and group shows paintings

Article 1  Hadara Scheflan-Katzav

Articke 2: Meir Ahronson, fall, 1995

   BOOKS AS MATERIAL/CONTENT

In this series of works, old books make up the bulk of the physical raw material of Sara Konforty's art. Indeed, the book, which is viewed by man as a repository of information, is here transformed into a repository alone - to the point where Konforty removes all the pages and leaves only the machine - made binding as a reference point for the viewer. In other instances, the artist uses the pages of a book as raw material for sculpture, thus nullifying the significance of the page as a place and turning it into the raw material of another work of art unrelated to the original work contained on the page.

The written word sometimes requires long passages in order to completely describe complex forms. Here, the forms, which are linked at times to a certain reality and at other times are devoid of any context, present themselves to the viewer without need of words.

Sara Konforty is actually engaged in two activities simultaneously. One is the destruction of books - ostensibly an anti-cultural, anti-humanist act; the second is an act of construction, of creation-on the surface of things, a cultural and humanist act. How does one reconcile the paradox between the need to destroy one object and the need to construct another? The truth is that no paradox exists: the book simply undergoes a process of transformation from one state of knowledge - gathering to onother. Consequently, this is not destruction in the familiar sense of "book-burning" with all its baggage of cultural brutalism. Nevertheless, it is interesting to note that Konforty - despite her use of books as raw material for her work - does not dare to "harm" any Hebrew books; instead, she focuses on books written in foreign languages.

Are Hebrew books really more sacred? Is the fear that we all harbor, of destroying our private and national history, make everything easier when the books are foreign and, thereby, somewhat removed?

Bodily substances such as hairs, which represent a form of material that is personal and constantly changing - a tipe of ever-present clock ticking away - are attached to the books, transforming them into personal, private, "diary-like" works of the artist, who shares them with the viewer in intimate confrontation.

In a book, when viewed as a place, the major focus is the text-the words that come together on paper and become the page's topography. In an interesting and not unoriginal fashion, Konforty causes the words to lose their contextual and topographical value and become a meaningless part of the totality that we call a book.

Lately, Konforty is producing intimate works. She has no desire for large-scale works, and is content to focus her energies and abilities on small, clear formats that offer no option for breaking out of certain preordained constraints. Everything is executed within, and from the inside out; there is no outside, no space - nothing but the sole

perspective of the artist or the viewer on the spaces preserved within the confines of
the work.

This context immediately evokes the image of a puzzle - a game of cut-up pictures where the player holds only the first piece, which is supposed to serve as the clue to the entire picture. The book, which always lies open in Konforty's work, takes us into the hidden worlds of the artist - and likewise into our own.

The clue, which is usually provided as a piece of the tableau, is offered here in a more interesting manner, as a three-dimensional form which springs out of the book like a monstor entrapping its message.

This puzzle is not, of course, the sole image. Which of us has not played with pop-up books, where the figures of animals or fairy tale heroes jump out at us when we open the book? Here Konforty, in a mischievous mood, causes the images to leap out at us in a novel manner; you've never seen a pop-up of tragedies or of such highly personal material before. This "wink" at the viewer does not indicate meanness or a sense of humor on her part but rather an attempt to draw the attention of all of us - preoccupied as we are with our lives and our problems - to what disturbs Konforty herself, to focus us for a moment on the issues of burning importance to her - whether as an individual or a concerned artist.

Konforty is engaged in redesigning the book, not as an object of knowledge but as an object with esthetic, even sculptural, values of the type that create a first impression of elemental, sometimes painfull, statements. She is engaged in redesigning the book as a concept.

It would not be completely wrong to see in these works a personal diary of the artist; but it would be closer to the truth to see them, at the same time, as a new and promising style of work for Sara Konforty.

Meir Ahronson, fall, 1995

Last Tango in Tel Aviv, An Article by Dr. Gideon Ofrat

Last Tango in Tel Aviv, by Dr. Gideon Ofrat
Sara Konforty, one woman show, 1990, Private Gallery, Tel-Aviv,
Oil paintings on mirrors, Perspex, glass, mix media
 
What began as a tango and a waise has turned into a death dance. The Belle Epoque style dances, full of joie de vivre, that characterized Sarah Konorty's oil canvases of a couple of years ago, have given way to the end-of-the-century style of a fearful dance macabre. The dynamic body language that so identified this artist is reminiscent of a romantic and harmonious dance based on a world of ceremony and beauty. Konforty's neo-romantic paintings, however, are inextricably caught in a very different kind of mating movement: something that arouses within us a sense of violence, a war of the sexes fought to the death. Strindberg 1990. The regular tempo of the waise and tango have been eradicated, replaced by an irrational, liberated, highly gestural action-painting that leaves the dancing duo with as little grace as a pair of gorillas. During the course of this developmental     regression, the human body achieves mighty proportions-while the head shrinks to the size of a lizard's. The brush strokes are drawn down by the sheer weight of the subject. Now that man has been reduced to two-dimensional liquid form, he trickles earthwards, defying the natural progression heavenwards.
 
The trance-like dance of Ibsen's Nora in the Dolls House, and of Strindberg's captain in Death Dance; the crazed erotic dance of Oscar Wilde's Salome-dances from the end of the last century in a post-modern end-of-this-century execution, with the same fin du siècle frenzy. Black, red and blue mingle together in a gloomladen pot pourri of body and earth, a fertile medley of hot lava and ash.
 
Konforty's monumental couples seen to belong to an earlier era, giants that could have been around at the creation or could have been banished from paradise.Theirs is a dance of torment. The realistic postures that Konforty created out of plaster and fiberglass just half a decade ago have been energized with all the pain and suffering of the mythological Vulcan. The brush strokes have become distorted. They began as spontaneous and uninhibited strokes than annihilated realism, giving it an ornate art-nouveau style of the waise era and of the artist's earlier canvases, a subtle quality. This realism has given way to a material abstraction and signs of injury. Bandages are draped over the figured, the thick colour like snakes turning into intestines. The very brush strokes seen to have become bandages.This anal imagery forces the tortured figures to materially decompose.
 
Their bodies are covered with blood, fire and excrement. Their attempt to join together is futile. Far from restoring a lost platonic harmony, this attempt only ensures disharmony. We can't even discern who is male and who is female. No human issue will emerge from these acts. Serpents are all that remain from the Adam and Eve of paradise.
 
Sara Konforty's "Graduation Ball" presents the fall of man in post-modernistic terms that reflect the desire for rehumanization after the unidimensional depictions of man that are the legacy of Andy Warhol and the post-minimalists of the seventies. This desire fuelled the human cut-outs with an organic and neo-expressionist aspect, with Konforty stepping between its German (mainly Bazelitz) antecedents. This reflects the post-modern goal of restoring the lofty ideals of the human spirit-yet gets stuck in the same doomsday jaws of fire that consumed alive the holy giants of Anzo Kooki and his Italian trans-avant-gurade colleagues in the eighties. In Konforty's work, too, the progression from culture (dance) to nature (creatures) remains ultimately the civilized movement of painting.
 
But Konforty has not simply been trapped in neo-expressionism. Her choice of transparent Perspex and/or mirror is highly comtemporary, blurring as it does the borderline between art and life. The subject (dance) seems to sentence the operatic pathos to mere posturing. The highly materialistic yet still lyrical figures demand the status of existence, while the reality described is an illusion. Yet it is as though this whole searing trip into the inferno of the subconscious is nothing but a two dimensional image. The concavity of the panels lends them an amusement park hall of mirrors effect. The exhibition turns willy-nilly into a sort of grotesque and mocking Vanity Fair that mirrors our narcissistic need for demons. Lost demons, for these tormented creatures lack any spark or background. The world that is imposed on them is ours, not theirs. These are wild demons struggling to get out of the bottle, desperately yet uselessly trying to find a spark. We the audience, are reflected in these mirrors, and become intertwined with these demonic figures. Are they creating us, or are we creating them in our image? Whatever the verdict, their day of judgment  lies in the humdrum of our daily life.



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