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Tamar Ben Shaul (born 1962, Israel) is an Israeli figurative artist who focuses her work on painting and drawing. Her body of work includes portraits, landscape paintings, still life and interiors of the domestic space.

Ben Shaul's works straddle the line between the personal and the societal, weaving between her inner world, sometimes autobiographical, and the collective realm. Her exploration of the human condition is central to her practice, and is reflected through various perspectives in her artwork. 
The artist delves into states of being, contemplating her immediate surroundings and intimate spaces, alongside universal human conditions related to socio-cultural textures in the current era. She draws inspiration from the surrounding world, current affairs, literature, poetry, and film. 

Her artwork combines a critical stance with probing questions about gender, identity, and social phenomena. She addresses various aspects of the human condition and reflects on questions regarding cultural perceptions and the interplay between individuals and society, between subjects, between the individual and the group, and between individuals and their environment. Her recent works shed light on the darker aspects of human nature, examining phenomena and norms in historical, ideological, social, and cultural contexts. The artist investigates power dynamics between the individual and the group, examining the tension and conflict inherent between conformity and individualism, the need to belong, and the fear of rejection. She reflects on situations and phenomena such as peer pressure, conformity, the herd phenomenon, and the mechanism that activates choice – influential components with ethical implications. Ben Shaul addresses these issues through various social situations that lead to destructive and violent group dynamics and moral failure.

 

Tamar Ben Shaul holds a Master degree in Interactive Telecommunications from New York University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Bezalel Academy of Art and Design. She also holds a teaching certificate in art from the Kibbutzim College and teaches art in her studio. Over the past decade, she has presented several solo exhibitions in galleries and various art spaces across the country. She lives and creates in Ramat HaSharon.
 

Artist Statement

"Life is not what one lived, but what one remembers and how one remembers it in order to recount it… Everything, the moment I laid my eyes on it, awakened in me a burning desire to write so as not to die".

Living to Tell the Tale, Gabriel García Márquez


I paint because I have to. There is a need within me to digest and process the emotional world inside me, the vast and salty world beyond the walls of my forehead, through painting. It has been that way since my childhood, and so it remains now. I possess a sensual love for painting: the smell, the texture of the paint, the transparencies and the layers. I am fascinated by the power of colors in their chromatic context (like chords in music), by the tension of a spot next to a line and the magic created by right tonalities that successfully produce the illusion of three-dimension, depth, and space on a two-dimensional surface.

My creative process is driven by the need to "paint a story". The idea and narrative outside the realm of painting are essential elements for me, as part of creating a meaningful statement. The concept from the outset is about a body of work rather than a single painting, where each piece is a small component of a puzzle. The series of works form the narrative. The recurring themes I find myself returning to again and again touch on the complexity of human nature, such as the desire of the individual to belong to a community, a family, or a place. I am intrigued by the blur between individual boundaries and the group – what is the extent of identification and obedience, vs. challenging its rules? The starting point can be autobiographical, a certain memory, a personal, social, or political event.

 

The creative process is characterized by long and challenging periods of maturation. When the idea begins to crystallize, it leads to a stage of research and information gathering, according to the subject I am working on, and simultaneously initial images are formed in my head, which are also a derivative of a sentence, a story, or a certain mythology. Sometimes the process leads me to unexpected realms, and for me, that is the magic of creation.

Self Portrait

Self Portrait, 2016, Oil on canvas, 50X70cm

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