Slag Gallery, Blooklyn
Charged with urgency, precision and an acute sense of place, Tirtzah Bassel’s luminous oil paintings capture figures lingering in uncannily familiar public spaces. Whether the subject matter of these canvases are crowds, couples, or single figures, the related verbs are of present continuous tense; standing, sitting, resting. –Etty YanivLargely based on drawings done directly from observation, the visceral application of the paint is simultaneously abstract and unabashedly illustrative. The densely packed bodies and fleshy tones, highlight the literal and psychological space that exists between the depicted figures. The complex compositions derive from the rich tradition of Western painting, while deftly utilizing subject matter to destabilize notions of progress and humanism.
In Ingress, Bassel uses a painterly effect to conjure the intrusive physical intimacy of an airport security scan, the postures of waiting, stranded luggage carts. In the current political climate, the traditional marks of travel - freedom, adventure, global connection - have given way to more complex realities of vulnerability, discomfort, disempowerment and exposure as the theater of security becomes increasingly pervasive. Bassel’s images explore the relationship between power and space, and the permeable borders between public and private domains.