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New series by Mexican painter examines narratives and memory surrounding the Holocaust
Prussian Blue – Memory after Representation: Yishai Jusidman is curated by Gabriela Rangel with the research assistance of Anya Pantuyeva, Veret Engelhard, and Christina de Leon.

NEW YORK, NY.- Prussian Blue - Memory After Representation: Yishai Jusidman, a new series by Mexican painter Yishai Jusidman, is on view at Americas Society from January 23 through March 23, 2013.

Yishai Jusidman (b. Mexico City, 1963) finds in his new series, Prussian Blue, an alternative way to address the meeting of collective memory and aesthetics in order to deal with major concerns of both contemporary memorials and history-based artistic deliverances. Notably, Jusidman’s paintings provide an insightful approach to the dark strictures that have dominated the production of works dealing with the representation of the Holocaust. A press preview with the artist will be held on Thursday, January 23, 2013 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. At the source of the fourteen paintings in the Prussian Blue series are photographs of the architecture of gas chambers at various concentration camps during World War II. The exhibition includes a condensed library-archive space in which selected books and films about the relationship between memory, trauma and artistic representation is available for the use of the public. On March 5, a panel discussion featuring the artist and art historians and critics will address issues pertaining to memory, trauma, and representation.

Prussian Blue – Memory after Representation: Yishai Jusidman is curated by Gabriela Rangel with the research assistance of Anya Pantuyeva, Veret Engelhard, and Christina de Leon.

Responding to an ethical imperative inspired by the works of Primo Levi and Claude Lanzmann to focus on issues of representation, memory and trauma, Prussian Blue aims to assert Jusidman's artistic investigation into the complexities of our contemporary visual experience through an operation that collates the materiality of the medium and the perception of the image in the meaning of the picture.

The Prussian Blue series—developed between 2010 and 2012—is paired with efforts undertaken by painters such as Gerhard Richter, Luc Tuymans, Eugenio Dittborn, and Marlene Dumas, who previously worked with genocide images inflicted by trauma and collective memory in which photography mediated the production of history through appropriation. Within this lineage, Jusidman departed from photographs of the concentration camps that have circulated since the Nuremberg Trials. However, he eludes traces of conceptual and pictorial detachment by a constant insistence on the viewer’s active participation to fulfill an inherent attribute of his art: to “make silence speak.” Jusidman suggests an alternative narrative regarding the Shoah that does not intentionally teach nor moralize, but meditates on the experience of an individual concerning the remembrance of a collective trauma. This message can only exist in such well-formulated pictorial schemes that harmonize the interplay between what the artist calls the “pictorial plane” and the “plastic effect” of a painting. In so doing, the paintings’ materiality and the artist’s practice are explicitly advocated by the use of materials that signify the content itself and reinforce the works’ handcrafted condition.

Some of the photographs in the Prussian Blue series were taken soon after the end of the war and others are more recent images of the camps now turned into public memorials. For the development of his pictures, Jusidman used exclusively three coloring materials that overlap the process of painting and the functioning method of the homicidal gas chambers. The first color is the same Prussian Blue pigment (Ferro cyanide) that unintendedly appeared on the walls of the gas chambers as a by-product of the Zyklon B gas. The artist not only replicates these colored stains in their actual materiality, but also stains his pictures’ settings as a whole in Prussian Blue. The second material is a silicon dioxide powder used for the pellets that delivered the gas to the sealed chambers, with which Jusidman creates the suggestion of a vaporous curtain by introducing it into his painting medium. As a third substance, he selected paints conventionally used for rendering skin tones (i.e. Flesh Tone, Flesh Tint, Blush, etc.) to refer to the millions murdered within the architecture depicted in his work.

With Prussian Blue Yishai Jusidman proposes a re-articulation of the experience of collective memory in paintings that emphasize their own aesthetic configuration and their material condition to convey their meaning in the eyes of beholders. The exhibition will posit questions about historical narratives, memory, trauma, and representation after the largest engineered genocide in history.

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