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Tamar Rosen: Heir to a Noble Painterly Tradition

Sabra-Cactus 1, Paintings, 45 x 33.5
There are certain painters whose work appears to be as much about honoring the tradition of painting itself as about the subjects that their paintings depict. Upon such artist we sometimes bestow the honorific of “painter’s painter,” and that designation seems entirely appropriate for Tamar Rosen, an artist from Tel Aviv, widely exhibited in both Israel and the U.S., whose solo show will be featured at Agora Gallery in Chelsea this October.
    If pressed to classify Rosen’s style in relation to artists of the past, one would have to say that in terms of texture and intensity her oils on canvas are akin to Soutine, yet in temperament she appears closer to Corot. Her resemblance to the former artist is perhaps most evident in her still life  on canvas “Fish 2,” where a half dozen fish lined up on a cutting board are
 depicted in rugged strokes of thick impasto that would have done Soutine proud. The silvery blue skins of the fish and the reddish wood textures of the cutting board, especially, recall facets of the great Lithuanian Jewish French expatriate’s work.  However, this particular nature morte is as close as Rosen comes to the violence that we see in Soutine’s flayed beef carcasses; for she generally seems to prefer celebrating in her still lifes the fresh brilliance of floral bouquets or  the living landscape in the plein air tradition.
   It is in her landscapes in particular that Rosen most resembles Corot, who anticipated the Impressionists but also imbued his canvases with a sense of the intangible. For like that French master, the atmosphere in Rosen’s landscapes does not emanate, as in the case of the Impressionists from outward sources of light alone. Rather, it emanates from within as well, and her deep affection for the places that she depicts in landscapes such as “Sabra- Cactus 4,” and “Yarkon View 3” lends these scenes a romantic mood far beyond the Impressionists’ scientific transcription of light and shadow. Indeed, each brushstroke is invested with emotional intensity, as well as a shimmering coloristic intensity that we see to particular advantage in oils such as “Yarkon View (River),” where verdant greens merge with yellows and blues to create a vision verging on abstraction.
   Rosen’s floral paintings also warrant further study for the sheer pleasure that her brilliant colors and vigorous brushwork provide. In “Orchid,” for example, the  central placement of the large flower lends the composition an emblematic power comparable to certain paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe. Yet at the same time, Rosen adds a dimension of delicacy to the painting by virtue of the exquisitely harmonized pale pink, purple, and blue hues that she employs to add depth and dimension to the flesh of the petals within the broader design. By contrast, strident orange bulbs and slashing green strokes bring an almost expressionist immediacy to “Tulips 2,” where the flowers appear as though suspended in midair against a vibrant blue field.
   Here, as in the other oils on canvas in this exhibition, we see Tamar Rosen’s deep sensitivity to nature and its nuances of tone and atmosphere. Even more impressive, however, is the artist’s gift for bringing her subjects alive and making them immutable in the palpable substance of pigment.
–– Marie R. Pagano

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