Article from Marek Yanai catalogue , Mayanot Gallery, September 2004
The first time people see Marek’s paintings they are struck by his beautiful, sure strokes that convey Jerusalem’s landscapes, the mysterious interiors of its stone buildings, and his intensely expressive and aesthetic portraits. Each detail is there, recalling those immensely precious “little things” which combine to make up the tissue of our daily lives. But at this point, our eyes have barely brushed the surface of the work: its profundity only becomes apparent to the viewer who is capable of discovering, behind the artist’s perfect technical mastery, the depth and intensity of a world which is ready to present itself.
Marek has taught me how to look, how to feel the mystery of Jerusalem and the intensity of its sublime light – a light that dazzles the eyes and the soul, a transforming light. Like no other, he has the ability – like the Baudelaire of the Little Poems in Prose in “The Windows” – to let us know that behind partly open windows lie fabulous treasures that the viewer’s imagination must conjure up: “In that black or luminous square life lives, life dreams, life suffers.” The mute, hushed thresholds of its houses speak of the intensity of the life that reverberates within and yet remains intangible.
Like all great artists, Marek creates a unique world, comprising both the expected and the mysterious. By the same token, he invites the person who contemplates his universe to compose his or her own poetry of day-to-day existence, untrammeled by any restraints. Behind the beauty of what the artist says, there lies dormant everything that is concealed in the secrets of these walls. For Marek is much more than a great teacher of art whom his students and his friends recognize and appreciate: he is a genuine person, and this inner authenticity reverberates strongly in the emotion-filled faces portrayed in his pictures. Thus the viewer fits in somewhere between the light, the darkness, the shadow, between that which is said and that which is left unspoken.
It all began in 1986, when a painter and a gallery owner met to talk business. At that time, neither of us had the faintest inkling that we were about to take a step into the unknown. The high point of this voyage is this catalogue, which traces 18 years of achievements in a highly fruitful cooperation.
The backdrop to this artistic adventure is the eternal spiritual city of Jerusalem, which both of us cherish dearly. The human adventure which has been woven throughout the years of cooperation has also been a very rich and varied one. While our business ties were established on the basis of trust from the very beginning, with the passing of the years our fairly different existential and philosophical choices helped each of us to discover other worlds and other values. And although at the outset our worlds and our real-life experiences were profoundly different, our shared love of Jerusalem – the essence of the Jewish soul – has so many times brought us closer to the essence of the work of art. During the many years that we have worked together, our respective worlds have become intertwined and bonds of loyalty have been forged between us.
This catalogue symbolizes the mutual affection and esteem that have resulted from our professional collaboration.
At the beginning of my career, my artistic choices focused on artists who are no longer with us, such as Abel Pann, Ludwig Blum, Shmuel Charuvi, and Zeev Raban. Marek was “my” first Important contemporary artist. Thus Marek is one of the main links in the history of Mayanot Gallery, and the path that we have trodden together is full of symbolism.
This catalogue, the ninth in the series, is a new stage in the process of developing on identity which has emerged gradually as I have made my artistic choices. It also sheds light on the path token by a major artist of Jerusalem, one whose authentic voice is continues to make a major contribution to Israeli culture.