Light, darkness, landscape, the human body, portraits and still-lifes that are shown in this exhibition are typical motifs in the work of Hanna Sahar (b. 1966) over twenty years.
The exhibition seeks to reveal the interactions and recurring themes that illustrate her singular artistic language.
Night is the space and time where she created many of her renowned works. Night is considered inimical to photography, which requires specific light conditions, but it can also disclose what the darkness conceals. The first series of photographs which Sahar exhibited, Princess Bingo, was dedicated to night activity, a marginal world of sex workers, gambling and sleazy clubs, captured under streetlights or car headlights in hasty, fragmented shots on highly sensitive photographic film. A decade later, in her Nightwatches series, Sahar’s focus shifted to empty, far-flung landscapes, using very long exposure to capture the night and the light that accumulates in darkness. The pale skies and monochromatic landscape recall soft, European landscape-art of the 17th-18th centuries. Forward and backward zooms during the exposure creates double images that give the landscape deceptive depth.
Two other series, Ashlon Beauty and Iraqi Still-Life, were shot in the studio with slow-exposure coloured lighting; illuminated figures emerge from the black background or disappear into it. Although the sleeping homeless people in Cast Asideare photographed in daylight, they belong to the night, exposing a repressed reality consigned to the background. In Sahar’s Illuminated series, she points her camera straight at the blinding sun, an unusual photographic act, that blackens the image into a shadow.
The first gallery displays a selection of works on the theme of light, darkness, and shadows, and features portrait photos of the artist’s family. In Iraqi Still-Life, contrasting with the innocent, moving nature in Nightwatches and Illuminated, we see artificial venomous colourfulness, disclosing photography’s manipulative aspect.
One side of the central gallery presents images of the body – male, female, and what lies between – the erotic seductive body, and the ponderous, helpless body. Again, the sprawled nude woman is in dialogue with art history. From the gallery’s other side, the phosphor light shining from the faces of the women’s figures in the Ashlon Beauty (How beautiful – in Iraqi and English) series, sometimes give them a ghostly appearance, sometimes film-star glamour. Strange coloured lighting has been integral to Sahar’s work from the start, in her Princess Bingo series.
In the final gallery, a less familiar series is shown, Suns and Nights. It is direct photography using lens filters and double images, and creates photographs like paintings with exaggerated colours, where everything is out of proportion.
Curator: Dr. Dalia Manor
Assistant Curator: Nirit Dahan
The Brightest Star
Editor: Dr Dalia Manor
Design and production: Michael Gordon
Be'er Sheva municipality
Ministry of Culture and Sport