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 Beni Gassenbauer

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Beni Gassenbauer was born in France in 1949 and settled in Jerusalem in 1976.​




Gassenbauer’s medium is watercolor on paper and he very ably applies transparent layers of paint to create a very rich texture of sharp-focus images. He conveys a sense of drama and adventure in his color application, moving a seemingly random but nevertheless deliberate and rich pigment in the water puddle from the pale pinks of the morning light to the deep, dark shadows created by the harsh Mediterranean sun. This is Gassenbauer’s magic. His tools cannot be more prosaic, but with these simple elements he transforms the paper into a seemingly boundless field of space and light.​
Gassenbauer seduces the viewer to pause and take notice of all the details - a tree, a rock, a wall, or the distant mountains enveloped in the special hue of desert light. The sheer accumulation of details gives a sense of energy and animation to the unpeopled compositions.​
Particularly impressive, both from a visual and technical standpoint, is the artist’s interplay between the two-dimensional paper and the three dimensional space. Here, as in other works, Gassenbauer’s meditation on nature, while not intentionally religious conveys in it the immanence of the sacred.

​MAREK YANAÏ​

Bezalel Academy of Art, Jerusalem



About the exhibition: Beni Gassenbauer and Marek Yanai, Jerusalem double perspective, May 2013:

About the exhibition: Jerusalem, double perspective, Beni Gassenbauer and Marek Yanai- May 2013:
​INVITATION TO GAZE:

An invitation to gaze at watercolors is an invitation to wander. The eye wanders back and forth from one area to another, from the whiteness of the paper to the spot of paint, and within the spots - in and out of the shallow depth of the skins of paint. Each touch of the brush, each touch on touch, sketches not only the depiction of the house, mountain or object, but also the way that the brush has moved.
When it’s a double invitation, an exhibition by two, things are even more sharpened. The wandering widens and the eye formulates one experience also according to its experience of the other.
When the two are Marek Yanai and Beni Gassenbauer, good friends, once teacher and pupil, even more so. The same city, the same landscapes, and almost the same angle of view, allow us to give ourselves over to looking at one and the other and to distinguish each one's special way of working.
While Beni leads us with confidence, Marek makes only suggestions. With one, the whiteness of the paper bears witness to a spot of light; with the other it opens gaps of wandering between the spots.
Beni Gassenbauer, an ex-dentist, doesn't lay down the tool of his precise craft. With maximum attention he gives us the pleasure of being in the presence of beauty. The views he has discovered are presented to our eyes as an artist's gift. Here is the open gate of house number 6 , we can go to the end of the path and back. The anemones expect us to take hold of them and lift them to our nostrils. The distant landscapes are also within the reach of hand and eye. The ability to touch doesn't disappear, all the way through the width, depth and surface of the picture.
With Marek, those same houses planted on the slope become a vision only. Dark areas are interpreted by us as shadows and thereby define the adjacent spot us nothing less than the wall of the house. The weave of shadows, near and far, creates a layout of brushstrokes dependent on one another. Only our act of connection bestows on them their whole form. So it is in the wrinkles of the figure and in the folds of the hills.
The awareness of the two artists of the act of painting is also shown with two faces.
Beni's pictures proclaim the victory of the eye. Nothing is missing. Every detail is caught in all its qualities, and every texture, light and weave is reconstructed with success. The row of palm trees, the array of olive trees or the group of pines await us there, at the place where the painter experienced them. This willing dedication to the view of nature contains within itself the belief that beauty is embodied in the objects themselves. That our world contains views that are worth experiencing, that the artist through his powers of sight and his painting, is capable of bestowing them as a gift.
With Marek, a sense of 'artistic freedom' creeps in. The touches of water flutter and are busy with the internal dialogue amongst themselves. The painter leads and expresses and mainly organizes. The doors of the entrance hall do not reveal a view of the courtyard to whoever is descending the steps. The white area of the outside and its direct continuation in the wide streak of light on the floor creates a 'pillar' that separates and mainly leaves us in the narrow space of the stairwell, demanding of us to occupy ourselves with the system of coordination of the vertical and horizontal lines and the diagonal of the banister.
The oil painting emphasizes the power and the authority of the artist to organize even more clearly. The window frame on the right, the bowl of fruit, the apple, the candlestick and the book, are all precisely laid out in the points of opening of the woven pattern beneath them. The window bars too lose their iron actuality and here become a painter's grid. A yardstick to measure the objects around it. No sky, treetop or cloud will appear beyond it and disturb its geometric cleanness.
Did we say two artists? Or maybe two faces of the act of painting, and mainly two ways of experiencing reality and through them "catching" beauty .

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