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"Set me as a seal on your heart for love is strong as death"
Song of Songs 8:6

How do we represent love in concrete form? How do we communicate love to another person? We all need the knowledge of receiving and giving love to fully experience our humanity but when pressed to define what love is, even the most radical among us revert to language and images that reach back as far as human record. Yaeli Ohana's work is rich with the problems and promises of love. The title of the exhibition "Love Letters" hints at her intentionS - In her words, "the anticipation, thrill, fear, the effort, and the decisions about how much to reveal and conceal".

Her work seeks to express something of the various methods we use to capture and communicate an indefinable sensation. She draws on the work of a number of authors in the Judaic literary tradition, particularly the sublime erotic poetry of the Song of Songs and the esoteric spirituality of Kabbalistic texts The Zohar and Shamati. In the work "Let us get up early and see if the vine has flowered", a title drawn from Song of Songs (7:12), we see a use of botanical elements, which for Ohana represent the physical body, its cycles, desires and deficiencies. She builds the work up in layers of brittle drawing and fluid pigment on paper; the resulting image appears fragile and suggestive, as if the work is a snapshot of something is in the process of revealing and retreating.

Ohana makes of use of quoted text elements for their literal meaning, as a critique of the role of text in writing a 'letter' of love and as a visual cue. These works are in part written documents, a contemporary response to ancient books of knowledge, but she is also asking us to look at text as an abstracted geometric form. The blocks of colour, like lines on a written page, create positive and negative spaces, inferring the presence and absence of love and the memory of marks made and actions taken. For Ohana, the text is "a window into something deeper, something beneath the surface." Ohana is reminding us is that, although love is something felt, to communicate it requires us to enact the insubstantial into creative form.

To this end, the act of love is a mirror of the artist's journey in the creating of work, a drive to extend out of oneself, to challenge the fear of rejection and to open up to shared human experience.

To download and view a PDF of Yaeli Ohana's biography click here.

Read more in the media: The Australian Jewish News August 2008

For further information, please email ng@ngart.com.au
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