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Itzu Rimmer

The Art of ltzu Rimmer as Visual Contemplation on Transcendence

ltzu Rimmer is an Israeli artist. This statement refers to his nationality, place of residence, and cultural background, but it also expresses an essential characteristic of his work. His paintings reflect the complexity and the tensions that are prominent in current Israeli existence. Some of these conflicts can also be found at other places, but here they are particularly conspicuous. The abstract conflicts between orient and occident, between the religious and the secular, between the traditions of the past and the future with its blurring of cultural and ethnic identities, between the materialistic and the spiritual, take in Israel the form of actual, concrete daily confrontations. However, the relevance of his art is not confined to Israel. The personal observation and the local perspective can provide novel insights on some of the dilemmas and tensions that are common to people around the world. This is the basis for the universal value of ltzu Rimmer's work, in spite of its clear and explicit local connections.


Twillight, oil on canvas
162 x 130

ltzu Rimmer is a non-religious Israeli, yet he is a religious painter. He deals with mysticism and religious experiences from a secular point of view. His work is a very personal attempt to come to terms with basic religious feelings. Here a person at the end of the 20th century considers the mystical experience in its purest form, without the intervention of religious institutions and outside any establishment. These paintings hold a unique place, especially now when it seems that religious motives in art have become obsolete, and in particular in Israel, where the relation of the secular majority towards religious issues is very complex.
The technique and style of ltzu Rimmer's work is strongly connected to the artistic training he received at the Bezalel Academy of Art of the mid-seventies. It was at that time dominated by the inexorable spirit of conceptual art and painting seemed outdated. He insisted on painting and maintained his characteristic way of doing art ever since, while exploring various styles and topics. Yet the conceptual basis is still prominent in his work. His paintings combine emotional expression with the contemplative examination of a phenomenon. They express feelings that arise out of the intellectual confrontation with fundamental questions, and do not refrain of dealing with ideas and thoughts. ltzu Rimmer's work is characterized by a commitment to simplicity. He depicts details and forms sparingly. Especially prominent is the use of empty space and empty canvas. The artist's decision not to touch the canvas is often more important than his painting on it, and expresses a strong commitment to an idea.


creation of light

Creation of light, oil on canvas
89 x110

The use of empty canvas to depict forms makes it impossible to alter things - once covered with paint, the canvas becomes irrervocably marked. This subtle technical aspect provides some indication of the great amount of thought that was put into each move in the painting. Painting for ltzu Rimmer is a calculated act that combines spontaneity with strict self-discipline. ltzu Rimmer is strongly connected to the desert and is fascinated by its aesthetics and mystery. Its colors dominate all his paintings. The wide expanses of the desert are the arena for the events that are pictured in them. The figures in the paintings also belong to the desert. They are related to Canaanite figurines and prehistoric rock paintings Although the mystical link is preserved, the figures here clearly belong to the 20th century. They always appear alone. They stand in the desolation, without objects, animals or other people, they hold no tools and have no discernible clothings. The pure essence of humanity, bare of any social or cultural identity is depicted here.
At the center of ltzu Rimmer work is a person who faces the transcendent. The human figures here are depicted at their moment of encounter with the sublime, the different, non-human. Some times it appears as a light or a halo, with direct reference to the light in religious paintings. Some times geometric forms, distinct from earth, sky, and the human figure appear in the distance. The forms are not basic, perfect geometric forms, but rather they are allusions to forms. They are alien to their environment, but do not intrude into it. Their strangeness endows them with their special metaphysical status.


Conversations VIII, oil on canvas
134 x134

The human figure maintains always a close relation with spirituality. Without the human figure there is no possibility for the mystical encounter. The human figure creates a path with its shadow, or stands on a path created by itself, but the path is also predestined for it. This is a personal, immediate religiosity in which the relation between man
and transcendence is created inadvertently. The human figure, by its mere presence, takes part in the spiritual event. The transcendent experience is created by its standing and watching the world.
ltzu Rimmer is a painter of simplicity who expresses profound ideas. This combination endows his paintings with the ability to touch the viewer. His work combines motives and directions, which seldom meet in current art. His stride between different worlds and ideological frameworks, underlines the unique synthesis of conflicting tendencies that endows his art with its relevance and depth.

Joachim Meyer, Ph.D.
Ben Gurion University of the Negev

Conversations with God in Itzu Rimmer's exhibition

A figure against an abstract background, or a figure within an abstract space, or in fact, a figure, that is to say a man, a person in confrontation with the abstract, are at the center of the series of works exhibited by ltzu Rimmer in his present show.
The figure is entirely exposed . Nothing hides it, but it completely lacks personal characteristics. We cannot recognize the figure nor identify any detail in it. A distance seperates between us, and this distance is significant. On the one hand, this is exactly the distance eyond which the figure could no longer be identified as a human one, and on the other hand, it is a distance that leaves the figure with nothing but its humanity, that is, it robs the figure of its personal dimension, leaving it with the mere fact of its being human. Putting this in a different way, we may say that although the figure is wholly present and completely given to the spectator's gaze, it nevertheless remains indeterminate because it holds itself in a way which is not intended for the spectator's gazing eye.
Its standing reflects concentration. The figure is in a state of concentration, but it is not focusing on itself. It opens itself beyond itself, to the place or rather to the absence of place in which it stands. Yet the word "place" cannot retain its ordinary meaning when applied to Rimmer's painting.
The figures that Rimmer paints appear in open wide, sparse, free expanses that are in a process of becoming and are not subjected to the uniformity of an organizing structure. Their colours, as their textures constantly change. The space has its own fluctuations, concealed occurrences which become explicit or semi explicit only in very specific points; converging, for example, into one defined brush stroke, a clear movement, or a geometric form.
The figure stands in an open space which gradually unfolds itself. This space is not perspectivelly structured, yet depth and the dynamics of depth are integral to it: the near, the distant, and that which is ever further away. The painting's dimension of spatiality depends on the relation or the tension between the figure and a line of horizon, or, in some of the paintings, a vertical line, that crosses the canvas. The straight line opens the pictorial plain to its unlimited depth, while the figure situated in the midst of this depth, attempts to find a place for it within itself, to find its own place in relation to the infinite.
Rimmer calls the central group of his exhibited works "Conversations with God". We may take the lead from this title and say that the figure we see in search of its place, is the figure of man in face of "HAMAKOM".

Hagi Kenaan Ph.D.
Tel Aviv University

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