There is no Distant Place
A look at the Solo Exhibition of Shimon Pinto
Text by: Dr. Ketzia Alon
No place is too far for Shimon Pinto. It seems that for him, and for his paintings, the notions of "geographical distance" or "mental distance" are foreign. The Mikve, Lecture Hall, The Desert, An Exhibition in the Gallery, The Sea Shore – all of these are both aesthetic and enigmatic spatial arenas in his paintings.
Pinto's art offers a wide range of surrealistically tinted connections, which are, at the same time, both realistic and humanistic. Pinto's ingenious painting is sophisticated. He chooses to disconnect a visual icon (such as a "grandmother's hair"-covered stick, a donkey, a pair of toe-clogs) and transplant it in a space foreign to it, while creating, at the same time, a picturesque harmony with its environment. This is the crucial detail which makes it difficult to nail the scene in totally realistic parameters and the whole scene "noisily" crashes into the subliminal, the weird, the non-clear.
It seems that the word "place" is tailor-made for Pinto's paintings. As is well-known, the word "place" in Hebrew ("makom") has two different meanings: one relates to the materialization of concrete physical space in reality, and the other to transcendental god. In Pinto's work a special connection is created between the two. His capability to characterize and decipher a place, such as the mikve, in the Israeli way of life is plainly seen in his painting of mikves. Pinto's painting "understands", as it were, that above and below the ontological mikve, concretized in reality, there is a "spiritual" mikve, just like a "celestial Jerusalem", which sprinkles its holiness onto the specific place.
Pinto uses realistic preciseness in order to indicate the place and at the same time to raise it up to that "super-place" or "non-place" which contains the transcendental but not the common, day to day uses. So, for example, the bare clogs represent a formative icon, which embodies both "the emblem of Israelism" and the visual carrier of the present-absent notion, the disappearing, mysterious and obscure presence of god.
These are those so-called Eilat-clogs which are at the same time the symbol of the vacationing Israeli and of cheap clothing. In Pinto's paintings the simple clogs take on a heart-warming quality.
There are no far places.