Merav Kamel and Halil Balabin
מרב קמל וחליל בלבין
Untitled, 2019, engraving in aquarelle and ink on paper
“I have tried to dissolve all this into dust, to make it disintegrate and vanish, through the Sisyphean task of making these works. I wanted to cover the walls with paintings, like the walls of a church. To create something of a temple to sexual experience, to offer a journey into the deep recesses of sex and to render the body, penetrated, by conquering the walls. I wanted for this interior, where the viewer or sex partner enters, to be inscribed with all previous experiences, with everything the viewers would rather not know, everything that is unspoken and deemed to silence.”
In Kamel and Balabin duo work one can find a witty sense of humor, wild imagination, a taunting spirit of mischief, and a passionate, provocative point of view. Their multidisciplinary language, which is characterized by rich materiality and varied techniques, which span from small hand sewn soft sculpture, drawing, etching, relief, and installation, challenges different mechanisms of culture, thought, society and representation. All of these are used in order to illuminate dark, sensitive, exposing, and painful aspects of the human, personal, and social experience, with its limits and shortcomings.
Their soft sculptures, masterfully sewn, detailed and elegant, express a lighter side of their practice, the material embodiment of little jokes, witticisms, wordplay, and twisted historical quotes, charmed by the bland and prosaic, unfunny jokes, vulgarities, and social and political criticism. They involve bold images with a hidden sting, and this is also how they act on the viewer: sweetly seductive, and then painful and thought-provoking, as the story of each sculpture is exposed.
Selected solo exhibitions: Big Lake, PRÁM Gallery, Prague (2019); Bauchnabel, PM Offspace, Düsseldorf (2018); Noun, Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art (2018); Amba, Inga Gallery of Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv (2017); Maalal, Inga Gallery of Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv (2016); Pinhas, Ha'Kibbutz Gallery, Tel Aviv (2015); Rhinos, Inga Gallery of Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv (2015); Rupture, 7 Bezalel Gallery, Jerusalem (2014)
Selected group exhibitions: NonFinito (The Hotdog Man and the Thief of Distances), Artport, Tel Aviv (2020); Ax Bear Crow, Artport, Tel Aviv (2019); Drop dead funny, the Brno House of Arts, Brno, Czech (2019); Table, Givon Forum for Art, Tel Aviv (2019); Blümerant, Plan d Gallery, Düsseldorf (2018); Israeli Art New Acquisitions, Tel Aviv Museum of Art (2018); Bad Intentions, Circle 1 Gallery, Berlin (2018); We Hereby Declare, Bat Yam Museum of Contemporary Art (2018); Untitled Art Fair, Miami (2017); A Midsummer Night's Dream, Jerusalem Print Workshop (2017); Traces, the 6th Biennale for Drawing, Jerusalem Artists House (2017); Zoom - young Israeli artist, Israel museum, Jerusalem (2016); Open Sketchbook, Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art (2016); Couples, Yanko Dada Museum, Ein Hod (2014)
Selected awards and grants: Artis Residency Grant (2019); Young Artist Award, Israel Ministry of Culture (2018, 2016); Printmaking scholarship at the Print workshop, Jerusalem (2015); Ehud Elhanani Prize, Bezalel Academy of Art and Design (2014); Sharet Foundation, AISF- America- Israel cultural Foundation (2014)