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

 Last Tango in Tel Aviv, An Article by Dr. Gideon Ofrat
Sara Konforty's 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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