Shlomith Haber-Schaim is a respected, award-winning artist who has exhibited in galleries and museums in Israel and abroad. Her exhibition Vanishing Point includes works in oil and mixed media and prints from the past 25 years. Her style and her images, that range from the figurative to the abstract, suggest her affinity to European and American art from the second half of the twentieth century.
Shlomith Haber-Schaim, nee Rieger, was born in Tel Aviv and grew up in Jerusalem. In early childhood she spent some time in Chicago, where her father Eliezer Rieger, a founder of the “Leyada” High School in Jerusalem and executive general of the Ministry of Education in its early years, went to study education. A perceptive teacher in the kindergarten noticed the child’s artistic inclinations and spread large sheets of paper on the floor for her to paint on. Haber-Schaim’s immersion in art began then and has continued to this day. She cites the early influence of the artist Mordecai Ardon, who was her teacher in elementary and high school and in Bezalel School of Art. Later, she studied at the Art Institute of Chicago with Paul Wieghardt, who, like Ardon, was a graduate of the Bauhaus. Haber-Schaim resided many years in the United States. In the 1970’s she started print-making, in addition to her work in oil and other media. In 2006, she and her husband returned to Israel and settled in Jerusalem.
The heart of the exhibition is a group of very large oil paintings, characterized by dynamic brush strokes and multiple layers of color. Particularly dominant are several paintings of landscape panoramas, in which lines suggesting a path or way indicate perspective and lead to a vanishing point on the horizon, dividing the space in two. A central idea, seen in many of Haber-Schaim’s works, relates to the tension between spontaneity and constructivism, a tension which is created in this series by the contrast between the landscape drawn with great freedom, and the road or way, drawn schematically in the form of a triangle. This contrast can be interpreted as the existential conflict between nature and man. A close look at this series shows that there is no winner: sometimes the path dominates the landscape, and at other times the landscape takes over the path.
The artist explains that this series was inspired by the views engraved in her memory from a long train ride she and her husband took in Eastern Europe. It is interesting to see the dialogue between these works and those of the contemporary German artist, Anselm Kiefer, who deals with the dark past of his nation through paintings of the remains of old paths and railroad tracks glimmering in cold and empty landscapes.
Alongside these large paintings, the exhibition includes a wide selection of other works. Note can be made of works in which the artist allows diluted oil paints to run, demonstrating her love of creation and her sense of humor, or a series with images of what appears to be a kind of ancient alphabet. In addition, there are prints, mostly abstract, which like many of the oil paintings, demonstrate the conflict between spontaneity and constructivism.
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