Tamar Getter: Pi-el
Over the past five decades, Tamar Getter has formulated a dynamic network of thought-images and painterly-events, whereby she rereads modes of viewing and interpretation of Painting. Her works are a way of processing the present, an attempt to grasp the fleeting, that which is set in motion and discontinues, occurs and stops. It is a painting of the painting process, a painting that is a duration, a repetition, and a pause.
Most of Getter's works from the 1990s onward are created in situ, while relating to the constraints and restrictions she applies to vision, movement, and the body, within the works and facing them. Many of them are executed directly on the wall, at times surrounding the space with a continuous painting belt extending between the ceiling and the floor. This modus operandi allows Getter to articulate her thoughts about the all-encompassing, inclusive gaze we have been accustomed to in viewing paintings, reaffirming her profound interest in the segment, fragmentation, and partial vision once a complex multi-part composition is concerned.
The black exhibition Piel spans paintings from the last two years, in which—in contrast to the spatial installations—Getter addresses the classical unit of painting, a single self-enclosed rectangle. Within it, the composition is simple, constructed as a whole on a single body organ—the hand—that nevertheless preserves the approach to segmentation familiar in Getter's work, which is here further emphasized by the monumental dimensions of the hand image. Getter maintains her oil-tempera painting technique, intensifies the use of squeegees, planks, and rags, and focuses on sweeping the paint rather than applying it, while leaving ample room for contingencies.
One laboring hand or a pair of active hands at work—building, placing, carrying, holding, estimating distances, always hovering in the painterly space—have been prevalent in Getter's work since the 1970s. In her later video works and installations, she also employs casts, photographs, and drawings of a hand in action. In her early works, the hands signified the painting as an act of construction in a schematic or symbolic space, and they were characterized as the hands of masons, dancers, laborers. Later, and in the current body of work, the hands are embodied as the painting itself. Getter uses black and white colors almost exclusively. She disregards anatomical depiction of the hands, and sets aside the objects of the grasp altogether. The paintings reveal themselves to the viewer as a phantom of their becoming.
*The Hebrew verbal stem "Piel" can express various kinds of action, often intensive action.