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Dress Rehearsal: Exhibition of works by Avner Katz on view at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art
Avner Katz, Bonjour Monsieur Katz, 2011.

TEL AVIV.- The radical eccentricity of Avner Katz's oeuvre undermines his affiliation with any one artistic movement or school. His works contain conspicuous Romantic elements: social protest, opposition to the political establishment and to militarism, a glorification of the imagination as an emotional and moral force, a repudiation of the conceptual tyranny of rationalism, and a recurring call to freedom. Nevertheless, from a biographical, conceptual, and iconographic perspective, he is a one-artist phenomenon.

Katz is clearly a product of his times. His political worldview is reflected in his art, in which the Israel Defense Forces' Six-Day War Campaign Ribbon has been a recurring motif since the end of the war. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict appears in his work as both an explicit and an implicit theme.

Katz's paintings are imbued with a sense of despair, as well as with social criticism. The political dimension of his art does not build on the mythology of catastrophe, and does not employ symbols of military or national power such as soldiers or rifles. His art may be described as a sort of "abstract fantasy" that gives rise to paradoxical images and situations of irresolvable (external and internal) conflict, which reinforce the enigmatic nature of the works. In this context, the concern with the exercise of power is shifted to the arena of artmaking itself, where it is given expression in the medium of etching and in images charged with political force.

Katz's eclectic works may appear at times to be logically ordered, yet simultaneously contain nonsensical elements that undermine the viewer's search for order, continuity, or cultural narrative. His works are structured around conflict-filled compositions that disrupt the world's stability, while the intermingling of significant and non-significant elements produces an experience of constant anxiety. Katz deconstructs painting into a subversive, ridiculing, self-reflexive utterance. The sensuality and impulsiveness that imbue his art are paralleled by the desire to address the world's ugliness. The works he has created in recent years may be described as comic-operatic events that unfold on a large scale and which are defined by a powerful gestural language, while wandering through the realms of time and memory.

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