Israeli artist Ofer Lellouche joins a figure-oriented summer of exhibitions at the Albertina. His art has a passive intensity that practically forces you into deep thought.
- Mainly drawings, prints and sculptures
- Some 46 works
- Runs Jun 29 – Sept 19, 2023
- See also:
Self and portraits
(Ofer Lellouche, Self-Portrait with a Raised Hand, 2012, charcoal on paper; The ALBERTINA Museum, Vienna – Donation Ofer Lellouche 2023 in memory of Jan Krugier | Photo: Elad Sarig © Ofer Lellouche)
One of the many pleasures of visiting the Albertina is the mix. The chance to experience something relatively new (especially to me, uneducated as I am) alongside the familiar. A taste of the contemporary in among the Picassos.
The Ofer Lellouche exhibition is an example, my visit prompted by the first words in the text made available for members of the press:
Isolation, burnt skin, disfigured faces
Born in French Tunisia in 1947, Lellouche studied in Paris and Tel Aviv (he still lives and works in both cities).
Much of Lellouche’s art deals with self-portraits and human figures, and these dominate the exhibition. They do not, however, evoke some simplistic dystopian nightmare, as those five words above might imply if taken out of context.
The works on display – prints, drawings and sculptures – certainly make an intense impression, though. Dark but not classically macabre. Unthreatening, but still worthy of a look over your shoulder now and then just in case. All part of a wider progression built through Lellouche’s career.
The disparity between our experienced norms and Lellouche’s representations leads, as so often on any trip around an art gallery, to questions. The whys and wherefores. The blurring of borders between reality and perception…your interpretation may vary.
(Ofer Lellouche, Head, 2009, terracotta; The ALBERTINA Museum, Vienna – donated in 2020 by Ofer Lellouche in memory of Dov Gottesman © Ofer Lellouche)
Lellouche himself notes wryly and accurately:
A self-portrait is not a selfie.
Those self-portraits morphed through time, even prompting a change of medium and/or motif. Lellouche states, for example that:
The more I tried to grasp the face I saw in the mirror, the more it escaped me. The more obscure and anonymous it became, until it looked like a rock or a stone. My self-portraits became landscapes. And so I decided to start working outdoors.
And this in turn led to self-portraits within landscapes. Ebb and flow.
Certainly I found myself urged into contemplation, an emotion shared with some of the portrayed faces and heads.
Many seem to stare past you (or not at all), lost somewhere in thought. The newer self-portraits seemed to lock eyes more readily, or perhaps that was just a consequence of our shared ageing process. I’d love to chat with the man himself over a coffee (unsweetened and no milk).
Afterwards, it comes as quite a shock to emerge into the bright light of a Vienna summer and the hubbub of buses and visitors.
Dates, tickets & tips
View Lellouche’s works from June 29th to September 19th, 2023. An entrance ticket for or from the Albertina includes this (and all) special exhibitions inside.
Drawings and the human form feels like a theme this summer in the Albertina.
For example, you have the Gods, Heroes and Traitors exhibition (until August 22nd, 2023) with works on paper depicting scenes from mythology and religion.
And a Georg Baselitz exhibition honouring the artist’s donation of significant drawings to the Albertina and the Morgan Library (provisionally until September 17th, 2023).
How to get there
Follow the tips at the end of the main Albertina Page. The Lellouche exhibition occupies the columned galleries on the ground floor. Once you pass the ticket check, go left and immediately right to walk up the lovely red carpeted hall; look for the entrance on your left.
Address: Albertinaplatz 1, 1010 Vienna