Because of Me the Sea is Wild |
Curator : Ravit Harari | Ramat Hasharon
ֿCenter for contemporary art | May-November 2023

Erev Rav Magazin/Shua Ben Ari
Benadikta Magazine/Interview/Yonatan Mishal
Makor Rishon Interview/ Ariel Shnabel

A large-scale wooden structure carries long rolls of paper, dozens of meters painted with fragments of mythologies, sunsets, and voyages at sea. In its formal abstraction, the wooden structure – which draws inspiration from devices used in the restoration of panoramic paintings – brings to mind a whale, and for a good reason.Some of the images reference the biblical story of the prophet Jonah, who was cast into the sea after he tried to flee the role God had assigned him, was swallowed up by a whale and then vomited from the whale’s belly unto the beach, after he acquiesced and was salvaged from the torments of his refusal. The image of Jonah in the belly of a whale, symbolically expressing transformation through absorption, is an iconic image in the history of art, and offers an essential interpretive perspectiveto  the exhibition.
Ilan’s painted abyss creates an endless aquatic realm that brings together abstract painting and figurative painting. Blue, fluid, and multilayered color fields whirl on the paper, holding fragments of figurative images that represent myths of disparate origins. The act of painting is carried out in a single day, before the layers of paint have dried, and so, it demands lengthy dedication and immersion in the painting process.

Ravit Harari

The outcome is a turbulent and flooded painting that reflects the demanding and overwhelming process of its making; a sea realm that washes over and unites the fragments of images into a uniform flow and fuses together figurative and abstract, historical and contemporary, physical and mythic, concrete and archetypical.
Various mythologies of sea voyages, states of consciousness and possible calamities they may hold unfold before the viewers. Alongside the references to Jonah’s story, the paper is teeming with everyday images culled online, archeological figurines of different origins and allusions to iconic images from the history of contemporary art. Among other things, the painting also includes hints to the figure of Dutch artist Bas Jan Ader, one of the prominent conceptual video artists of the 1970s, and his mysterious disappearance at sea during the project In Search of the Miraculous in which he attempted to cross the Atlantic in a small sailboat.
Ader’s figure echoes the figure of Jonah. Both had a thorny relationship with the world, and in a sense, bot go out to sea as troubled men. And perhaps going out to sea embodies the primordial human aspiration to conquer and assimilate into the swelling and exciting realm – as an absolute act of faith or as the ultimate artistic act.