Outside of the Frame / Karine Levit
In a fascinating article in the catalogue of Lena Zaidel’s exhibition at the Artists’ House in Jerusalem, Gideon Ofrat attempted to investigate the “riddle of the wolves” in her paintings. To the observer of Zaidel’s work – which has been accompanied by the presence of wolves now for over a decade – it is difficult to detach from the huge cultural baggage borne by the canine beasts of prey. Wolves have been and are the symbol of an apocalypse, Ofrat reminds us, of death, of tragedy, and of terror. They are the fearsome bad guys in countless literary, musical and psychological texts; but here, argues the artist – who repeatedly draws them spreading throughout the desolate streets of Jerusalem, large and hairy, gray, white and black – “My wolves are good!” But, “Should I let go of the bad wolves in the stories of Red Riding Hood, and of Peter and the Wolf?” wonders Ofrat in confronting this authoritative statement, continuing to ask with a drop of self-humor, “Am I able to let go of the catastrophic interpretation, taking my personal apocalyptic tendencies into account, not to speak of taking the wealth of mythological sources regarding the wolf into account?
”Zaidel was born in Russia in 1962 and came to Israel at age 14. She lives in Jerusalem and has presented several personal exhibitions since finishing her studies at Betzalel. Parallel to her work as an artist, Zaidel is also involved in spiritual studies from an early age, as well as studying and teaching meditation. This interesting aspect of her life provides a theoretical response to the questions raised by Ofrat regarding the source of the wolves running around in the mind of an artist and which find their way time after time onto the canvases of her paintings. “Lena Zaidel’s paintings extend toward two poles that fructify each other,” Ofrat concludes. “The duality of calm and vigilance, of the good and the terrifying, of sanctity and profanity, of the spiritual and the earthly, salvation and the end of days… This duality is the split in the Creator Himself.”