Human still-life

Israel 1966-1974

How can still-life be human? It is by nature silent, motionless, emotionally void. Such is the temporal world. In an artist’s imaginary world, however, the mundane becomes magical, and the earthly – dreamlike. The subconscious guides the brush, memory undergoes metamorphosis to emerge in the images of a still-life that is alive. Bak’s unrealistic world does not rest purely on personal experience. Although these paintings are surrealist in style, their symbolic, religious and national components lend them a historic dimension. This dimension marks a clear distinction from the European surrealist tradition despite the use of methods suggestive of the European Renaissance, the cradle of Western civilization that took part in the implementation of the Holocaust.

Bak’s still-lifes are none other than family portraits, he himself portrayed as a pear. Bak, as with other members of shattered families that survived the Holocaust, is part of a familial unit built anew.

The material holding all the families together is their inherent determination not to let the cracks shatter them. The family members are reinforced by chains of commitment to return to life, the only address to which they can return.

The everyday kitchenware are stripped of their natural context and natural dimensions, and it is no accident that they resemble Andy Warhol’s tins of Coca-Cola and Campbell’s Soup in prints that came to represent the 1960s. However, what is encountered here is a personal interpretation of American "Pop Art". Bak’s kitchenware and pears are not just the objects themselves, but take on a symbolic dimension.