In­ter­view with Tslil Tsemet

By Sarah Elise Abram­son

American Art Collector - - Art | Visual Feast -

Grow­ing up in the ex­or­bi­tantly po­lit­i­cally charged en­vi­ron­ment of Jerusalem, artist Tslil Tsemet was bound to find some of that man­i­fest­ing in her art. Her paint­ings lie at the in­ter­sec­tion of creepy and hu­mor­ous. Her sub­ject mat­ters are of­ten telling a story deal­ing with so­cial and cul­tural mat­ters, which are clearly very much en­twined in the fiber of her be­ing. Artists paint what they know, what they’ve ex­pe­ri­enced or want to ex­pe­ri­ence, and what top­ics are im­por­tant to them. This is ex­actly what Tsemet is do­ing. She be­lieves that laugh­ter as well as art are both heal­ing reme­dies in this sick, sad world, so those are the things she puts into ac­tion. Her slightly dis­turb­ing im­agery de­mands your at­ten­tion. Then af­ter a longer look, the dark hu­mor of it all hits you and you’re sud­denly able to laugh at these hideously daunt­ing things and peo­ple there­fore tak­ing their power away ever so slightly.

Tsemet is a strong be­liever in the truth that we are all one; we are all con­nected. Stripped of our cloth­ing, our skin tones, our speech, our re­li­gious be­liefs, we are all just naked bod­ies plod­ding around try­ing to make sense of our­selves and the world. She has found that paint­ing her sub­jects in the nude gets this mes­sage across more di­rectly. She is also call­ing upon the fact that nu­dity does not al­ways have to equal sex or sex­i­ness. Bod­ies are bod­ies and we all have them.

“Through art I ex­am­ine the hu­man species based upon the so­cial and cul­tural val­ues to which it is bond, and to those ideals we grasp in or­der to main­tain our san­ity,” says Tsemet. As she is still an emerg­ing artist, she strug­gles with where her art ac­tu­ally be­longs but see­ing as how her tech­nique is com­pe­tent and cun­ning, not to men­tion pow­er­ful, and her top­ics of choice are rel­e­vant and strik­ing, I be­lieve she is one to watch. We can ex­pect very large—she usu­ally paints on can­vases that about 60 by 40 inches—and in­flu­en­tial paint­ings from her in the com­ing years.

How old are you and where are you from?

I’m 30 years old and I was born in Na­haryia. It’s a small town in North Is­rael. I cur­rently live in Los An­ge­les.

At what point in your life did you re­al­ize you were an artist?

I was al­ways an artist, since I can re­mem­ber my­self. Since very early child­hood and some­one put a pen­cil in my hand.

How of­ten can one find you draw­ing or paint­ing?

I am al­ways work­ing on some­thing. Some­times seven paint­ings at the same time. I wish I could say I paint every sin­gle day all day long, but it’s not the case since life of­ten forces me to han­dle other things. But I am very pro­duc­tive over­all. This past year I have com­pleted 17 large oil paint­ings, and I be­lieve I can more than dou­ble that next year. When life al­lows me, I can paint in the stu­dio for a week with­out go­ing out at all. The plan is to ba­si­cally do only that.

Did you have any for­mal train­ing?

I fin­ished my MFA in 2011 at the Beza­lel Academy of Art and De­sign, Jerusalem. I ma­jored in fine art.

What would be the main un­der­ly­ing mes­sage you’re try­ing to com­mu­ni­cate through your work?

I guess as much as some of the work is in­ti­mate and per­sonal the mes­sage is very uni­ver­sal and rel­e­vant to just about any­one. I use a lot of hu­mor while deal­ing with heavy is­sues. Hu­mor is a spe­cial type of cure and it helps us to re­lease and move around top­ics that aren’t funny. It also forces the viewer to ac­tively think and ques­tion. Im­ages, vis­ual art, have an im­me­di­ate

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