Text by Amalia Ziv
The figures in Roni Taharlev’s paintings are ambiguous, in two respects: the world that they inhabit is undefined, its historical and geographic coordinates are unclear, and in most instances their gender is unclear and subject to interpretation. These ambiguities are deliberate, and also interrelated. This is an attempt to create portraits that lie on the spectrum between femininity and the masculinity, that straddle the midway point between what are conventionally regarded as two poles. These are not portraits of actual characters with a nonconformist gender, but rather form part of a purely artistic inquiry – namely, an attempt to negate or counteract gender traits in a bid to achieve a “zero degree” of gender. What brings us closer to it is youth: the time before the portrait is imbued with a life story, before the subject’s expression is shaped by a social role and the body assumes the trappings of social status.