At the Edge of the Abyss

Orit Adar
Al Hasharon
January 5, 1996

A concern with the delicate existential balance – beauty versus ugliness, strength versus tenderness, chaos versus order – characterizes the works of Assaf Romano exhibited in the “Studio” Gallery in Raanana.

On the face of it, there is no clear connection between the works chosen by Assaf Romano, 31, graduate of the Photograph Department in Bezalel, to exhibit in the first room of the “Studio” Gallery. What links the works (some of which were done in 1994) is the fact that all of them are carefully done, figurative, and representing a world of images that deal with delicate existential balances: falling down versus balance, chaos versus order, strength versus tenderness. This is so with the giant golden egg between the legs of the woman which is held up by the strength of the pair of legs but could also be crushed between them, or the ship that sails over the earth’s crust and manages to survive (in the meanwhile) through the force of gravity, or abstract stains that cover over (or erase) the sketch under them, or a while swan that sinks at the bottom of the page, almost swallowed up by black color but holding itself up by means of the white contour that marks it.

These works become a kind of introduction, and even an index, for the continuation of the exhibition present in the second room of the gallery. Here there is a collection of works that is much more integrated and uniform in their perception and it is obvious that they were done within a continuous period of time, perhaps even in one breath.

Romano, a skilled and sensitive artist, works on small pages. He painted hundreds of pages with the thought that some of them would remain in the format of an album or a book. In any case, what is interesting here is the work process – in each page there is an encounter of the artist with the world of images that is in part entirely unconscious, and which appear for the first time to the artist through the process of work, with the images created almost by themselves. The white pages are stained with golden oil spots – and from there the journey begins. On the pages that recall the works of Beuys and Gershoni, Romano “mounts” with the colors of earth and grey black. Again there is a rising sense of delicate balance (almost hysterical) from the empty page to the full one, between the random spot of oil to the very much intended color stain of Romano, a balance between beauty and ugliness.

The exhibition is accompanied by a brief note of Assaf Romano who is not very optimistic about the power of art to touch us. He begins in this way: “The picture will fail. We remain in our isolation …”, and he ends like a person who has learnt from experience: “I make pictures honestly, soberly, in a desperate manner but also full of joy and desire. In this way there exists a possibility that the pictures will cause the occurrence of an art experience”.