Exploring the Female Body | The Work of Reuven Bracha

Amir Cohen

The paintbrush of Reuven Bracha speaks the truth, rowing up a canvas river in an ongoing journey of exploration, its actions swift and decisive. With a skilled hand, he carves cardboard waves that crash all around while separating significant aspects from those of lesser importance. Sensual, fleshy female imagery is discovered like Sandro Botticelli’s Birth of Venus (1485), her figure accompanied by the metaphysical imagery that drifts around her.

Her arms are spread to the sides, as though she would like to capture her world in a loving maternal embrace. A strong, clearly present female figure with a bold stance, turning straight back, is contrasted with her tense limbs, silent face, and straight body. A carved topographical map gives birth to the curve of the buttocks, as though showing layers of a wedding cake. Bracha explores the regions of her resonating body in the space of this creation. All her movements and posture originate from her buttocks.

Rising spires, tempting structures teasing as though they stand at the head of a church – Bracha glorifies this duality by marking the curves of her breasts with fiery red. Their presence balances the effect of her buttocks.

While traveling through the feminine regions, Bracha dares to disassemble and reassemble, to bring forth charged objects that remind the viewer of the work of Pablo Picasso. This line of women, emotional and bold, evokes a great amount of freedom – the empowerment of the soul through a complex relationship with the subjects of his creations. It is a fascinating disassembling process that, at the height of its powers, does not need to rely on complex colors.

The female torso is shown from the back and seated on a bright red platform. Her buttocks and the curves of her thighs fill up the space from side to side, with her shoulders pushing her head outside the frame, creating an abstract multi-layered composition that communicates with strong color platforms that surround and consume on every level. In contrast, his work entitled “Magic Carpet” includes a character portrayed through a number of dots, fluent in composition and remarkably balanced, floating in front of a background of pastoral color that is easy on the eye. So, in the series of monochromatic women, a black figure will appear made from cardboard and acrylic paint – clerical and extremely dramatic. She emphasizes Reuven Bracha‘s extraordinary ability to sculpt his paintings.

Genesis. Behind a door, her body knows not to look into the red light. Time and again, he returns to the bed, and to an encounter that speaks of loneliness and embarrassment, a second station through star-filled skies to the orchard where he will pluck the fruit of the hard labor that was his adolescence. The same silent inquiry, ten years old, that bore desire, is swept up in a strong current of rich language. The models who are documented in Reuven Bracha‘s work are not done any favors by this visual approach and the extreme representation of their intimate world. From the point of view of posing the figures, and the skilled use of color in his large-scale works, Bracha‘s work is similar to the creations of the British artist Lucien Freud (even given the visible differences between the two).

The battered, controversial faces, viewed from different sharp angles, are like a chain of coordinates formed from Mondrian-esque primary colors, trailing off until nothing is left of them. They are a styled frame, empty in the mind, from calculated engineered value of industrial material. A sliced cardboard corpse, open and ready to receive a concoction of daring, constructed colored tissue. A board well spread with a layer of dark espresso is conquered with the light of a viscous moon. A basic, primal ascetic fabric provides frayed edges that hypnotize with their spiraling ability to disassemble and reassemble. Woman.

The structure of Bracha‘s face is drawn with bright color; his nose and cheeks are white as if he is a Masai warrior. His eyes gaze straight ahead and his lips are sealed against an orange-red background. The cardboard cutouts emphasize and expose complementing contrasts between the color palettes in which absolute freedom rules and the rigid, sharp form that expresses reserve, drawing the viewer in to discover a solution to the riddle that lies between the folds of his face.

The empty chair, taken from the work of Vincent van Gogh, lies as if forgotten in the center of a shabby living room. Its gloomy blue color encompasses the cardboard structure, and respectfully leads the viewer towards his sitting place made from warm colors – strong and emphatic paintbrush strokes that describe a world that has ceased to exist. The presence of the chair imagery defines Bracha‘s living space, between the walls of a room in the south of France, existing in borrowed time.

The yellow, the blue, and the red – a round green table stands, and on it a red wine bottle is a main focal point for the axis of cyclical action that sweeps the viewer into a magical circle. Their beauty lies in radiant simplicity, the lack of pretentiousness with which Bracha imbued them. From here, the secret of their iconic power, their stability in the unity between the woman’s figure and the chair in which each of the three sits. Bracha returns to correspond with Sandro Botticelli and his Three Graces (1485-1487), which have been depicted in several versions throughout history. Like the original creation, Bracha‘s work uses the triad of joy, vibrancy, and radiance. He celebrates their spirit in a number of works in a suitable supportive environment and an optimistic description crowned with blue skies strewn with snow-white clouds.

A clear outline flows and splits, springs up as black as burning asphalt on a scorching hot day along the length of a familiar road planted with cypresses that soar from southern childhood districts towards the grapes of cotton paper from the Burgundy region. In bright colors that brush against one another like transparent shoulders on sharp graphical waists in a twisting road of shadows, scorched in daylight like white strikes from the baton of a strict conductor, his eye chases closely after the curves of a crotch, stains, and demands to become her bodyguard. Bracha‘s sketches move between describing the women and the landscapes that surround him. The clarity in which he places the lined and spotted fabric, smart and sensitive, simple to be seen, and therefore believable to the eyes of the viewer. His search for the truth is eternal, the naked truth existing in his ability to describe. His thin language is not laconic at all, his ability brings his artwork into harmony. The nature sketches of Reuven Bracha are like a free, nostalgic fabric that has been woven from a love of the land and its fruits. The winding line, familiar from his depictions of women, becomes almost abstract in his depictions of architectural structures and the local olive trees. The journey from pencil sketches to watercolors is natural, and Bracha‘s handwriting in transparent spots is easy on the eye: compositionally balanced, leaning towards the center, clear and bold.

Reuven Bracha‘s diverse work began through his early artistic searches in preparatory sketches and documentation until they reached the grand scale of his current works: stormy, dramatic, and romantic at once. Encountering Bracha‘s works sparks emotion about the refined truth that underlies his work and flows harmonically, finally becoming complete.

Amir Cohen

Tel Aviv, Summer 2010