Ruth Schloss: Protests on the Horizon
Protests on the Horizon — Ruth Schloss's (1922–2013) first solo exhibition at the Museum.
From the very outset of her artistic career in the mid-1940s, Schloss's works indicated her preference for figurative painting, which is harnessed to represent the socio-political reality; painting that directs its gaze at the social margins and focuses on excluded and disempowered populations. Already in her early drawings, Schloss depicted the country's people and its "broken" landscapes with a rare sensitivity and courage unusual in her time: transit camp (ma'abara) landscapes, scenes of post-war destruction, uprooted Palestinian villages, traces of "abandoned property," and demolished neighborhoods in Jaffa. Drawings such as Refugees in Area 9 (1965)—portraying villagers from the vicinity of Sakhnin, Arraba, and Deir Hanna (today's Karmiel area) standing amidst the ruins of their homes—sketch a grim and anti-heroic image of reality in the first decades of the state.
The exhibition Protests on the Horizon, whose title is extracted from Nathan Alterman's poem A Protest's Fortune, focuses on paintings created by Schloss in the last two decades of her life. It marks a peak in her ongoing engagement with the human existence of the helpless. These paintings are juxtaposed with early drawings, which preceded the later manifestations of human suffering in both content and form. The later paintings reveal a new painterly sensitivity in the introduction of monumental figures: old men and women, newborn babies, and handcuffed Palestinians. Depicted from up close, the figures are "chained to life," fighting for their freedom from their first to their last day. Through the winding movement of the handcuffed bodies, Schloss ties the political body's protest against wrongs and injustice with the eternal struggle of the surviving body.