Held in Love 1
This painting, richly rendered in saturated hues and steeped in old master technique, is a meditation on vulnerability and discipline as gateways to intimacy and wonder. This work is part of a series by the artist that asks: what happens when we feel “held in love?” These works explore how our days are altered when we feel embraced and when we feel that we belong. The richly textured brush strokes and intense colors of this composition draw viewers into the work, highlighting how our sense of sight and our sense of touch can ground us—giving us space to be more present.
Speaking about the impulse behind this body of work, Bassel said: "The past two years have radically shifted my practice. Being in lockdown during the first few months of the pandemic while caring for my two young children and an older relative forced me to reconfigure my daily routine and also to reconsider what I want from my work. I adopted a daily meditation practice, which has been transformative. I begin my days very early, by turning inward for 10 minutes to recognize my mental and physical state and to bring a nurturing presence into my consciousness. Over time I began to carry this mindset into the studio, and I’ve been making work that imagines a world in which people feel “held in love." In these paintings we are very close up, the colors are warm and saturated, and we get glimpses of tender bodily contact. A pinky toe rubs against an ankle bone, cheeks stretch over the back of a hand, a thumb makes a soft indentation in the skin. Only when we slow down to look and feel can we really know our condition, and these works are an invitation to ground ourselves in that knowledge."
Tirtzah Bassel paintings and site-responsive installations challenge the presumed neutrality of ubiquitous spaces like airports and supermarkets. The artist has also reimagined iconic works from the Western art canon by altering those works’ narratives, including flipping the gender of their subjects—creating richly rendered compositions of saturated hues that employ the technique of the old masters. Bassel’s paintings meditate on vulnerability and discipline as gateways to intimacy and wonder, while simultaneously asking viewers to see the familiar in unexpected ways.
Tirtzah Bassel was born in 1979. The artist received an MFA from Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts, and studied drawing and painting at the Jerusalem Studio School in Jerusalem, Israel.
Solo exhibitions and site responsive installations of Bassel’s work have taken place at: Slag Gallery in Brooklyn, New York (2019); Galerie Thomas Fuchs in Stuttgart, Germany (2018); Ortega y Gasset Projects in Brooklyn, New York (2018); FOR-SITE Foundation in San Francisco, California (2016); BRIC Arts Media Center in Brooklyn, New York (2016).
Group exhibitions that have included Bassel’s work have taken place at Pelham Arts Center, Pelham, NY (2020), Musa Collective, Boston, MA (2020), Slag Gallery, New York, NY (2020),601 ArtSpace, New York, NY (2019), Kunstverein Worms, Worms, Germany (2017), The Visual Arts Center, Summit, NJ (2015), Open Source Gallery, Brooklyn, NY (2015).
Bassel’s work has been featured in Frieze Magazine, Hyperallergic, The Boston Globe, KQED, San Francisco Chronicle, The Art Newspaper, Huffington Post, Arts in Bushwick, and BBC Radio 4: Front Row, among others. The artist’s work also appears in Rethinking Painting, a publication of The LeRoy E. Hoffberger School of Painting at MICA with essays by Nancy Princenthal, Raphael Rubinstein, Jutta Koether and Barry Schwabsky, and edited by Joan Waltemath.
Bassel is a faculty member in the Visual and Critical Studies Department at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and a resident artist in the Chashama Workspace Program in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
Bassel is represented by Slag Gallery in New York City and Galerie Thomas Fuchs in Stuttgart, Germany.
Bassel lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
This painting, richly rendered in saturated hues and steeped in old master technique, is a meditation on vulnerability and discipline as gateways to intimacy and wonder. This work is part of a series by the artist that asks: what happens when we feel “held in love?”More