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Clawing at Art’s Skin

by Gilbert Lascaut

With her sharp, cutting etchings, her fervent and poetical searchings, the cruelty of her intense, enigmatic scenes, Yaarit Makovski claws at art’s skin. She tattoos it. She scarifies it. She scratches it, she grazes it, she scores it; she gashes it, she streaks it. She brands it. She stamps it with unknown coats of arms, doubtful hieroglyphics, indeterminate ideograms, elusive messages, undefined codes, ambiguous signs- all these she stamps onto art’s skin.

Yaarit Makovski is an audacious geographer. She is a fearless and resolute explorer. Onto surfaces and canvases she marks out unknown regions, new trails, paths, determined wanderings, a carefully chosen peregrination. She sketches bodies, and draws their contours. She lines each road to be taken with beacons. She measures and takes her bearings. She loses her way and finds it again. She looks for references, for landmarks. She traces demarcations, cadastral measures, boundaries, signposts, triangulations, topographies. At times her explorations resemble those of the character from Kafka- the land surveyor K- who attempts to work at the foot of the Castle. Meteorologist, she studies different climates, air pressures, temperatures, dryness and humidity, winds, clouds. She assesses atmospheres, environments, variations, sudden shifts, breaks in the clouds.

Yaarit Makovski has an expert’s knowledge of exiles, separations, banishments, displacements, departures, migrations, exoduses. She expects them. She prepares for them. She acts. She makes use of every means in her power. She attempts to persevere in a temporary here, a present under threat. She believes in hope. At times she quotes a saying by Andy Warhol: One must try to struggle against sadness, bleakness, gloom.

Yaarit Makovski devises disrupted spaces, contradictory planes, unstable terrains, shifting lands, fantastical sites, perhaps like those created by Georg Grosz (1893- 1959),Otto Dix (1891-1969), Saul Steinberg(1914-1999), David Hockney (b. 1937), Jan Voss (b. 1936), Roland Topor(1938-1997) or Antonio Segui (b. 1934.) Saul Steinberg, for example, transforms a wrinkled sack into a house; the lines of a partition represent falling rain; the letters of words become people; everything undergoes an identity crisis and turns into something else. In the works of the savage Georg Grosz, a sniggering military doctor pronounces a moldy skeleton he is examining “fit for service”. With a world-weary objectivity, Grosz paints Berlin street scenes; he attacks the military, the Church, and moneyed interests... And then there is Otto Dix, who paints veteran military officers, mutilated, one-armed, or legless- the “Gueules Cassees”- playing cards; one holds his cards between his toes. Otto Dix often opts for cold, shrill colors; he depicts girls, circus performers, trenches, Temptations of Saint Anthony...Or again, the virtuoso David Hockney chooses, sometimes simultaneously, different perspectives, opposing styles (cubism, fauvism, realism), diverging appearances: a mountain is worn away; it is seen as if it were a puzzle, with its assemblings and disassemblings, its overlappings and gaps; the Indians of the Rocky Mountains are tired. He gives us secret caves, chairs that are falling apart, plane surfaces that move and hide... And then there is Jan Voss who paints, among other things, a wild, hollow star, a lethal zither, languid hares, labyrinths, anti-scorpions, imitations of writings, eggs with glasses.... Or again, in the works of Roland Topor, huge open scissors which entrap and decapitate the birds flying in the sky; the flame of a candle is the blade of a dagger; the “carte du Tendre” appears in an old woman’s wrinkled face.....And in certain drawings of Antonio Segui, trails of smoke become curved columns of stone; clouds resemble guitars; a “one-legged house” is a joyful leaping witch; dancers of the tango look like wild beasts; buildings move.

In Yaarit Makovski’s strange circuses and disparate territories, there come and go curves, straight lines, scattered points, squares, checkerboards, colors, deletions, numbers, letters, ballerinas, tightrope walkers, hunters poised to shoot, cyclists, a crowned pope, dogs, a huge gentle bear, a cat, a rhinoceros......

Yaarit Makovski’s landscapes are never serene. There is no stability, no balance, no permanence, no calm. Anything can happen. Everything will come as a shock..... And yet, movements are suspended. The swell of the waves, the whirlwind, the flood, momentum- all are on hold. What came before is almost forgotten, and the future is not yet foretold. The present is both possible and impossible; it is dreamed of and uncompleted; it is only imagined and unthinkable in the eye of the hurricane.

Each etching (or pastel) might illustrate at one moment an indeterminate fable, at another a sibyl’s prophecy, at another a minor myth, at another a paradoxical legend, at another an exaggerated morality, at another an ambiguous texture. The comical and the tragic are intermingled.

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