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Homage to Yosl Bergner: Illustrations to Franz Kafka's Oeuvre at Tal Aviv Museum of Art
Illustration to the Trial,1950s, collection of the artist.
TEL AVIV.- This exhibition, held to mark Yosl Bergner's 90th birthday, includes drawings lent by the artist, which were made during the 1950s and document the first phase of his Kafka work. They depict scenes from the novels The Trial and The Castle and from the stories "The Judgement," "The Metamorphosis," "A Country Doctor" and "The New Advocate." They are careful sketches, with a frenetic, vigorous line, expressing emotional turmoil. The exhibition is on display at the Tal Aviv Museum of Art.

Despite the frugal depiction of facial features, resulting in a sense that these are "Everyman" representations, the images facing us in the exhibition are disquieting. Some are standing by a window, but it is unclear whether they are gazing out from inside, or gazing in from outside. There is a strong sense of wavering between inside and out, without wholly belonging. Many of the images are devoid of balance, tilted as if about to fall, enhancing the sense of transience and fragility. Other images are depicted in the midst of a struggle.

One cannot ignore the theatricality and visual aspect of Kafka's work—characteristics tangent both to Yiddish theater and to Bergner . Reading Kafka, one has a sense of being presented with a sequence of scenes reminiscent of frames from a movie. For example, the dead body of the son who committed suicide upon his father's orders in one of Bergner's illustrations to "The Judgement."

Bergner's way of dealing with Kafka's world is fraught with hesitation, paradox and inner contradiction. Nevertheless, he manages to express in his drawings and paintings the nightmarish, mysterious and quasi-realistic atmosphere that encompasses Kafka's world.

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