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In recent years, Omer Halperin (*1984, Raanana, Israel; lives and works in Tel Aviv-Yafo) has forged a position as a painter-draftswoman with a distinct style that emphasizes material reduction. Her works carry an enigmatic quality and a powerful sense of atmosphere. Like many painters who prime their canvas with a layer of paint, usually white gesso, she fills the sheet of paper with soft pastels or charcoal and smears the powder in different areas so that a velvety surface materializes of varying density. Yet Halperin’s surface is dark and never sets in place; from it, she works to ‘reveal’ the image using the touch of her hand and an erasure sponge.

Her figures emerge from the shadows, like a photograph developing in a dark room. They are not based on an image or on direct observation but rather they are imagined or summoned from memory (the two blend together). The characters reveal themselves in the pictures, dictating their own needs, as it were, such as when they extend beyond the limits of the sheet of paper and require the addition of a second sheet or parts of it. In some works, our gaze seems to sneak up on the figures in mid-performance or in a dance; In others, they stare back at us directly, stealing a mischievous gaze so as to raise questions regarding their true motives. Other works present elements of domestic interiors from shifting perspectives, suggesting the movement of the viewer around them. The pictures’ extremely fragile surfaces are invoked by the protective sheets typically used to cover them – here seen covering certain walls from floor to ceiling and serving as a subtly tactile backdrop.

“Omer Halperin: Pictures” is the first painting exhibition in CCA’s exhibition history, throughout its 25 years of activity. The name of the exhibition returns to the anachronistic term ‘pictures’ as an umbrella term that refers both to the depicted image and the object itself, hanging on the wall, and does not distinguish between mediums, be it painting or drawing (or photography, for that matter). Halperin defiantly insists on the importance of painting no matter what, on the “anti-contemporary” in a place that is so identified with Israeli art’s contemporaneity and international up-to-dateness – or the longing for it. Halperin's pictures look primarily to the past and invoke a whole array of painting references that combine figuration and abstraction infused with a sense of existential melancholy, among them Jewish painting from the European diaspora at the turn of the last century. At the core of her paintings are symbolism and atmospheric spirituality, as well as a hint of the grotesque – elements that characterized the early works of Jewish painters such as Marc Chagall, Chaïm Soutine and Mordecai Ardon.

At a time marked by fracture and devastation, Halperin seeks to express faith. Faith in the power of the medium. Faith in the intimate, human scale. And faith in the viewer's ability to access painting and to give into it, to trace the painterly action itself of movement and surprise or a certain effortlessness. And in so doing, perhaps, to discover ourselves again.

“Omer Halperin: Pictures” is curated by Tamar Margalit and supported by Thomas Rom, Bollag-Guggenheim AG, and the Yehoshua Rabinovich Foundation for the Arts, Tel Aviv. Special thanks to Sommer Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv / Zurich.



Omer Halperin

Since the Age of 7, 2024

Soft pastels and charcoal on paper mounted on wood, 90 × 74cm

Photo: Liat Elbling


Omer Halperin

Left: In transmission, 2024

Soft pastels and charcoal on paper mounted on wood, 150 × 91 cm

Right: No signal, no reception, 2024

Soft pastels and charcoal on paper mounted on wood, 78 × 56 cm

Photo: Liat Elbling


Omer Halperin

Left: Inside many rooms, 2024

Charcoal on paper mounted on wood, 76 × 56 cm

Right: Affirmation song, 2024

Charcoal on paper mounted on wood, 76 × 56 cm

Photo: Liat Elbling


“Omer Halperin: Pictures,” 2024

View of the exhibition at CCA Tel Aviv-Yafo

Photo: Liat Elbling

Omer Halperin: Pictures

May 11, 2024

March 14, 2024

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