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Yoram Chisin

Exhibition information


Gallery Different 14 Percy Street · Fitzrovia · London · W1T 1DR

This exhibition is now closed. It took place from 11 to 15 October 2023.

Exhibition essay


What Lies Beneath (detail)

Interested in layering and texture, Yoram Chisin paints zones of colour on a variety of supports including wood, jute, and raw linen canvas to create works of arresting visual depth. Occupying a confessional mode, Chisin’s works testify to the chaos of his inner self and the dread of past military conflicts he participated in. Rips, stitches and spills evoke physical wounds as much as psychological suffering. For Chisin, human experience involves a struggle to establish order and dispel chaos, which he dramatises in repeatedly outlining geometric shapes.

This exhibition takes its title, ‘Wounded By Reality’, from Chisin’s admiration of Paul Celan (1920-1970), a Romanian-born German-language poet who described himself paradoxically as “reality-wounded and reality-seeking.” Celan searched for a new poetic language – intuitive, fragmented, enigmatic, ambiguous - that could accommodate the pain of his experience of the Shoah. Celan had an unshaken faith in language as a medium that could be reconstructed to confront past and present tragedies. For Chisin as a third-generation Holocaust survivor, Celan’s faith in art is a source of continual motivation and truth-seeking. “I stay with suffering as a source of inspiration, and work to reveal and heal my soul in a physical way,” he explains.

The artist’s constant experimentation - particularly his creation and use of nuclear blue - becomes an embodied form of mystical and philosophical questioning. Time and again, Chisin returns to certain pieces, revisiting and altering them, adding depth and layers to his work. As a self-taught and self-proclaimed ‘unmethodical painter’, Chisin’s practice involves emotional craftsmanship in the physical application of paints, objects and textiles onto the canvas support. Nuclear blue is a key element of his artistic language; influenced by Yves Klein’s signature deep blue pigment, Chisin created his own matt shade of blue inspired by the unearthly blue glow emitted by water exposed to nuclear radiation.

The contrast between gold, blue and black in Chisin’s most recent paintings evokes divinity, nature and danger all at once. Chisin counterpoints the intense saturation of his pigments with the frayed edges of jute or canvas, evoking fragility and temporality. Chisin’s use of gold evokes a profound spirituality; the French word ‘or’ is homonymous with ‘or’ (אור), meaning ‘light’ in Hebrew. “My mode of working involves a constant conflict between light and dark, between the beauty of art and peace and the violence of war, because these are the two extreme poles of my experience,” Chisin explains.

The rough, sculptural shapes and surfaces of his works are a recognition of life’s disorder; by pouring, rubbing and adding or exposing layers of paint, Chisin encourages viewers to apprehend meaning in a chaotic world. As an Israeli Jew, Chisin’s painting is fuelled by continual anxiety about his country’s fate, the current political regime and growing instability in the Middle East. In this context, Chisin’s paintings can be viewed as cartographic evocations of territories, real or imagined, and how order imposed by countries, institutions, people or ourselves, can do little to dispel chaos at the edges, or the violence inflicted upon the marginalised.

Chisin’s channelling of feeling through painterly touch, intense colour and stark edges speaks to notions of time and the accumulation of beauty, pain and experience. Celan often wrote about the importance of facing despair head-on, and how truth might reside in the darkest of moments: ‘speaks true, who speaks shadows.’ Latent in Chisin’s beautifully crafted paintings is the hope that art can help dealing with life’s wounds, and can constitute a form of emotional communion with the viewer.


Nuclear Blue Golden Accent at Gallery Different

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Tree and After Ardon II at Gallery Different

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