DHTML Menu By Milonic JavaScript

Yehudit Sasportas / MATRIX 200

By the River

October 10, 2002 - January 19, 2003

Yehudit Sasportas: By the River, 2000 (detail); acrylic and ink on MDF; dimensions variable; courtesy of the artist and Sommer Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv.

Download the exhibition brochure (PDF) .

Yehudit Sasportas is an installation artist whose work fuses drawing, painting, sculpture, and architecture. Last year she received the Gottesdiener Prize, awarded annually to the most accomplished young artist in Israel. The themes of Sasportas's art are both specific to the various aspects of her own experience living in Israel and almost universally resonant—from the problematics of defining form, to displacement and the inability to define a border. Wandering, elusiveness, instability, and concealment; tension, aggression, and lack of control are all addressed in her work.

Probably her most important project to date, The Carpenter and the Seamstress (2000), is an abstraction based on the floor plan of her family's public housing apartment in Israel. The carpenter and the seamstress are her parents. A room installation consisting of panels covering portions of the floor and walls and a three-dimensional recreation on the floor, the piece blends rigid geometric spaces with more sensual, patterned decoration, representing the family's attempts to reconcile the visual language of their native Morocco with the utopian modernist vision of Israel in the 1970s.

This work reflects Sasportas's fascination with Israeli culture, which has always been heterogeneous, comprising fragmented identities. In The Carpenter and the Seamstress the artist contemplates a circumstance in which aspects of particular cultures lose their ascription to an authentic source, while the visual means of preserving them are flattened, emptied, recycled, and imitated. A new situation thus emerges, one that is two-dimensional.

For her MATRIX exhibition, Sasportas is creating a striking new site–specific exhibition, commissioned by BAM/PFA. In the MATRIX piece, the floor of the gallery is covered with multicolored rectangular wood panels in a variety of sizes and thicknesses. Each panel is cut by the artist and then laboriously handpainted. Using an earthy, muted palette, Sasportas paints schematic images of mountain vistas, topographic maps, wind patterns, oceans, volcanic eruptions, urban skylines, and architectural details. One must carefully navigate the tight spaces between five separate "island" forms that compose the installation; black panels emphasizing different degrees of depth punctuate those with elaborate color and pattern. Sasportas's graphically based visual language posits that recognizable surfaces can reveal an unexpected core. She employs "scientific information" as an abstract, open metaphor for her diverse narrative, which functions simultaneously as a self–portrait and an insight into contemporary Israeli life.

Sasportas was included in the 1999 Istanbul Biennial and the Ninth Triennale, India, 1998, and she has had solo exhibitions at the Ramat Gan Museum and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. The MATRIX exhibition will be her first solo museum show in the United States.

Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson
Phyllis Wattis MATRIX Curator

Yehudit Sasportas/MATRIX 200 by the river is made possible with generous support from the Helen and Sanford Diller Supporting Foundation, a supporting foundation of Jewish Community Endowment Fund.

The MATRIX Program at the UC Berkeley Art Museum is made possible by the generous endowment gift of Phyllis Wattis.

Additional donors to the MATRIX Program include the UAM Council MATRIX Endowment, Ann M. Hatch, Eric McDougall, Glenn and April Bucksbaum, Christopher Vroom and Illya Szilak.