Jonathan Gold | Admissions Committee
Jonathan Gold is an artist and painter, who lives and paints in Tel Aviv.
Gold's works reflect for the viewers his own world. In the works are situations and characters that relate to familiar and daily experiences from the life of the artist and his close environment. In the painting series Admissions Committee, Gold deals with issues of systems and establishments using nude and occasional humor, that enables a different perspective on the depicted situations.
Gold was born and raised in a Kibbutz in northern Israel and living in a communal society has been a great influence on his art, regarding the understanding that everything must exist with relation to its surrounding environment. Most of Gold's work describe relations within a group, or an attempt of the individual to place itself in modern systems of living. There is a conflict in his paintings between the space the characters reside in and their physical body, alongside a formal wandering between the figurative and the abstract that in a certain way represents the tension between the presence of the human actuality in the space and the power structures that surround it.
Admissions Committee, the main piece in the series, a diptych painting, five meters long, describes a familiar situation from interviews that take place in work places, the army, art schools and more. One of the leading ideas for Gold in this painting is the common advice that is given to those who speak or perform in front of an audience – to imagine that the viewers are naked. The diptych that displays the members of the committee with their bottom body part naked, is in a human scale that in turn communicates with the viewer – the viewer is inserted into the situation, almost as if they are standing in front of the committee themselves. The background is described in an abstract mode, and the scene is almost theatrical, with no sense of heroism. The nude in painting along the history of painting was perceived as heroic and meaningful regarding the painter's technique and ability's, takes a different meaning in Golds' paintings – nudity is inserted in the painting to deal with human dynamic in the most direct way. The presence of the nude in the painting inserts an element of tension and power relations, and in a banal and routine scene, in which the characters are represented in different modes of boredom, the nude draws attention to acts of power and violence in the bureaucracy of the art world and in the world in general.
Gold perceives the act of painting as an independent artistic practice that enables him to deal mostly with internal questions that relate fully to him and his internal world. He mostly paints the nudity and the characters based on his own body, by looking in the mirror, self-photographs and more, so that in the paintings we see different reflections of the artist himself.
The painter for Gold is a craftsman, and he produces his paint on his own. Since 2010 Gold has been working with wax glue and pigments with a desire to seek after a medium that will replace the traditional oil paint and will enable the examination of the process of depth in the painting. Gold uses cold wax (cera colla), a technique that was used by the ancient Egyptians in Fayum mummy portraits, and that creates a flat, matt painting surface. Gold's painting technique enables a unique colourfulness and texture to the painting. Gold attempts to give a different appearance to the surface of the painting – one that stands in contrast to the materiality of the oil paint that involves working with harmful chemicals – and is characterised with a dry appearance and a prominent pigment.
Gold works in propensity to the local art scene that he grew up with, in Israel. The local language of the kibbutz is a deep derivative of the Israeli modernist painting. He is influenced by kibbutz artists like Yochanan Simon and Aharon Giladi that described their characters in a similar way – without psychological characteristics, but with a very strong physical presence. The size of the paintings, in an historical format that has a powerful presence, alongside the standard and routine scenes based on the artist's internal world, echo the phrase "The personal is political". The nudity that is planted in a public environment in the painting and creates a discussion regarding power relations in multiple contexts such as gender, institutions and bureaucracy, is perhaps utilized to give presence to the personal, the hidden, inside the public space. Admissions Committee can perhaps be perceived as a series of paintings that attempt to bring back the subjective, the personal – to the center, and to reveal hidden truths about it.
Gold studied art in Rijksakademie in Amsterdam, in Beit-Berl art college, and Art History in Haifa University. Along the years Gold exhibited his works in group and solo exhibitions in gallerys and museums in Israel and all over the world, including CTRL Gallery in Huston, Haswellediger & co in New York, Haifa museum of Art, the Helena Rubinstein gallery of Tel-Aviv Museum and the Martin Gropius museum in Berlin.