On RED LANDSCAPES and the LANDSCAPES cycle at large 1979 - 1982
Like other works in the cycle, RED LANDSCAPES is based on the stage decor designs of the architect and engineer Sebastiano Serlio (1475 - 1554), who was an Italian mannerist, famous among the builders of Fontainebleau in France, and who was a fervent advocate of neo-classicism in Europe. (The plans for the city Bath, in England.) Serlio published "The Seven Books of Architecture" (or in its other title: "All the Works on Architecture and Perspective"), including also his work for the theater.
The stage-decor plans Serlio designed for theater were of interest for me because of their Manneristic conceptual model: It offered a schematic system, also a permanent plan for all dramaturgical requirements, according to which a silhouette of a deep wide perspective of a classical city, would be a backdrop for Tragedy, a narrow gothic medieval city street a set for Comedy, while Satire would be shown against a silhouette of wild rugged landscape. This was, of course, a conceptual way of associating cultural history at large by linking generic architectonic models with those of dramatic action.
satire comedy tragedy
For the LANDSCAPES cycle which shows landscape in a "symbolic" (or "linguistic") way (not any eye-sight), I created different types of ensembles based directly on the perspective schemes made by Serlio.
Serlio's neo-classicist architectonic ideas marked In Mannerism one of the very early modern instances of the Europian dream of universal architecture. My Painting at the time I worked on the LANDSCAPES cycle was concerned with the potential universality of art. At the time it was not regarded as a matter of fact or an obvious issue. It was not to be answered with 'yes' or 'no', but the awareness of the question was somehow in the air while making or reflecting artistic choices.
My preoccupation with Serlio's planning for theater preceded my work with the plans for the Ideal City of Palma Nova, made by his student, Scamozzi Vincenzo (1548-1616), as was realized in the Susannas' Cities installation I made in 1993 in Strasbourg, and later on in the The Militia Dreams installation in Washington 1994, where I based my drawings on his vision of residential buildings for military personnel, his barracks. Later, I was involved with 20th-century modern types of universalism; the Bauhaus schemes.
Thus, there's a path leading from my early treatment of the Ideal City of Piero Della Francesca, in the Tel-Hai cycle (1974-1978), to the universalist models of Modernism.
RED LANDSCAPES composed the three silhouettes of Serlio together: the Comedy, the Tragedy, and the Satire all interwoven into one panel. On the 'face' of these three Forms for the drama, another silhouette is drawn, in a bold red-pink line. It is the perimeter of Nicola Poussin's neo-classical painting, Rest of the Holy Family on the flight to Egypt 1655. The Flight describes Maria, Joseph and Baby Jesus with their donkey. My line combines Poussin's front scenery with the horizon of a Middle Eastern city with obelisks and mosques - the scheme of the Tragedy. At the bottom of my panel, I marked the little paws of baby Jesus.
RED LANDSCAPES is also a green painting. As in other works of this cycle, the compositional schematic and conceptual considerations are reflected on color decisions too, mostly in the choice to organize the whole of each painting by complementary pairs: red-green, yellow-purple, blue-orange, black-white, etc'. The feature of complementary colors; flattening out any depth, the perspective 'killers' so to speak, served me well, I felt, in a cycle preoccupied with the notion or the conditions for Universalism.
RED LANDSCAPES was first exhibited at the Givon Gallery in Tel Aviv in 1982. Afterward, at the 82nd Venice Biennale, at the Ramat Gan Museum, at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, at the Museum of Modern Art in Oslo, Norway, New York and elsewhere. It is photographed in catalogs, articles, and books. This painting is now in a private collection.