Roni Taharlev is a perceptual painter working in a continual dialogue with the classical western tradition of art. Her figurative paintings are laden with a deep knowledge of the classical tradition in European painting through the ages. Her work corresponds with the western painting tradition from a position of familiarity while transcending simultaneously with a modern-contemporary perspective, forming a highly personal artistic language.
Taharlev has built up, over decades, an intimate knowledge of and relationship with Western art history: this allows her to place her models in poses that bear a close connection to classical poses while transforming the bodily effects and overtones of these poses.
Therefore, her work often corresponds with the remarkable precedents of Western art – be it with Roman frescoes, with Renaissance and Baroque artists (notably Titian), or with moderns such as Degas, Cezanne, and Balthus.
Taharlev’s main preoccupation for some thirty years has been painting the human figure. One major strand in her work has been her ongoing interest in observing and studying women’s bodies. Taharlev’s goal in this work has been to explore and portray women’s bodies and women’s gestures from a 21st century point of view. These works are driven by a curiosity to see women without the usual cultural contexts and constraints they are surrounded with. Her work represents strong women, and beauty in a traditional sense, that nevertheless cannot be interpreted or subsumed through the prism of sexuality.
The nudes in her paintings shed off the female nudity familiar in Western art. It may be more like wearing nudity inside-out, a way of experiencing nudity from the inside, from a subjective feminine space that precedes sex, gender or sexuality. The same is true of her paintings of young nude men in poses that are not considered masculine, exploring bodily beauty that does not invite a sexual interpretation.
Taharlev continues to reinvent her work, and takes the exploration to another level, through the representation of gender-fluid and sexually ambiguous figures. In 2021, The Haim Shiff Prize for Figurative-Realist Art Committee awarded the 2022 prize to Taharlev. Taharlev’s exhibition will take place in 2023 at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.
In 2020, her last exhibition emerged from a planned year at the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin, one of the world’s leading academic institutions. After some seven months of intensive work in Berlin, which was also exhibited at the Wissenschaftskolleg and in Bad Saulgau in Southern Germany, the coronavirus pandemic forced her to return to Jaffa, Israel where she completed the other half of the works in the exhibition. Taharlev’s residency and work in 2019-2020 was supported by an Artis grant.
Previously, she had a solo exhibition in the Herzliya Museum of Art in spring 2019, which pushed the envelope of the glass ceiling for both men and women, examining the black-and-white gender binaries that do not allow freedom of all nuances, the varied scales of the grays. As part of this project, Taharlev took the theme or a position that expresses ambivalence, tension, and the conflicting impulses of To know and Not to know. This exploration led her, among other topics, to the solemnity of the Annunciation, of which she did several variations. One of them was borrowed by a Louvre curator for the Moon exhibit at the Grand Palais in Paris in April 2019.
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