Bracha L. Ettinger at the Istanbul Biennial

by Sarah Peguine | 19.10.15

Five years ago I had the pleasure of visiting Bracha Ettinger’s studio in her home in the north of Tel Aviv. The meeting was brief but the atmosphere of her magical art stayed with me all these years, until this summer, when I attended the 14th Istanbul Biennial and saw Ettinger’s exhibition “And My Heart, Wound-Space Within Me. Eurydice – Medusa”.
The show is open until November 1st at one of the Biennale’s main venues, the “Arter- Space for Art”.

Bracha L. Ettinger, EURYDICE, THE GRACES, DEMETER, 2006-2012

Ettinger, (b. 1948) is an influential painter in her generation both in Europe and Israel, dealing mainly with themes such as the psyche and the soul, psychoanalysis, personal and historical trauma (especially the Shoah), memory, the unconscious, the “matrixial” interior space of painting, the passage from the invisible to the visible, and the feminine and feminism through the mythical figures of Eurydice and Medusa.

Bracha L. Ettinger, View of the installation “FATHER DON’T YOU SEE, n.3”, 2015. at ARTER. 14th ISTANBUL BIENNIAL, 2015

The exhibition in Istanbul is composed of 15 oil paintings, an installation and 75 of Ettinger’s notebooks containing sketches and notes from the past 30 years.
Ettinger has a unique painterly technique, working on each painting for years (some take up to 9 years), applying layer by layer. The result asks for a long, insistent gaze, which in time unfolds hints to Ettinger’s interior life, with figures and symbols such as a mouth or a face, revealing themselves and appearing like ghosts on the surface of the abstract painting.

Bracha L. Ettinger, MEDUSA, 2012

The show’s highlight for me were the notebooks, carefully presented on a very long rectangular table in the middle of the space. Each notebook, lies on the table like a specimen, offering yet another glimpse to Ettinger’s inner world.

One of Bracha’s notebooks which caught my eye, opened on a page saying in hebrew: “Everything is over, but the light” (pic: @ohsoarty)

If you make it to Istanbul till November 1st, don’t miss this intimate and powerful show, which asks questions about the practice of painting, history and the unconscious.

Practical Info: 

Bracha L. Ettinger: And My Heart, Wound-Space Within Me. Eurydice – Medusa
Istanbul Biennial
Until November 1, 2015


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