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Oren Eliav “Mount Zero”

15 Sep 2020 - 23 Dec 2020

I like to think of a painting as an event, not a thing. When you look at a painting, it is up to you how much time you are with it. You can have a glance, extract the information and name what you see (“It’s a landscape”) and then move on. Conversely, you can choose to give it more time, go past the image and start looking…. If the painting is good, your perception keeps shifting and you can feel and observe those shifts. In a way, looking at painting is a chance for looking at looking”.

– Oren Eliav in conversation with Maria Chiara Valacchi, April 2020


Mount Zero is a poetic choreography of paintings, a visual treatise on the nature of time. The show engages with the architectural structure of the BUILDING venue, gradually revealing the complexity of the artist’s expressive approach.


The exhibition is presented in four chapters, corresponding with the four floors of the gallery, from the ground floor up: Foot of the Mountain, Crossing,Crossing at Night and Equalizer.

Mount Zero begins on the ground floor, titled At the Foot of the Mountain.In a vast landscape, we engage with shifting perspectives and subtle chromatic variations of syncopating images, hinting at what is about to unfold as we move up the space.


On the first floor, Crossingvisitors are greeted by a multi-panel painting reiterating the action in question, as the human element is fleetingly introduced. Stone, water and light resonate with the paint itself, driven by bold brushstrokes and delicate glazes. BUILDING becomes a metaphorical space informed by physics, art history, philosophy and architecture, merging the analogue past with the digital present, all rendered in oil on canvas.

On the second floor, day becomes night. The eloquent Crossing at Night is a hallucinatory fugue dedicated to two figures, one carrying the other, as if in a dream, revealing their most humane and compassionate essence. They accompany each other on their journey through space and across time.


Going up to the top, we encounter Equalizer, a floor dominated by red paintings, raw in appearance, described by the artist as a “horizontal, neutral moment of cessation”.The peaks and troughs that have accompanied us this far finally meet in the middle, settling on the same plane, at exact zero. In this void, the story seems to come to a finish point, which could just as well be a starting point. Life comes to its end or is just beginning.

Together, Eliav’s 26 paintings form Mount Zero, a wave-like landscape, an imaginary space where mountains form and erode, stones turn into flowers and life keeps appearing and disappearing.


Biographical notes

Oren Eliav (1975, Israel) lives and works in Tel Aviv.

Employing art historical imagery and optical phenomena through painting, Eliav exposes the complex relationship between seeing and believing or assuming. Through various visual manipulations such as reflections, shifts in scale, breaks in composition, mirror images, multiple perspective installations, repetition and so on, his works present themselves as a mirage-like territory where cultural knowledge and the act of seeing compete for a place in the viewer’s mind.  As such, they are able to encompass both illusion and realization.
Eliav received his BFA (2005) and MFA (2009) from Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design Jerusalem.

Solo exhibitions of his work have been organized by Givon Gallery (2004, 2006, Tel Aviv), Ashdod Museum of Art (2010, Ashdod), Braverman Gallery (2010, 2012, Tel Aviv), Tel Aviv Museum of Art (2011, Tel Aviv), Suzanne Tarasieve Gallery (2016, Paris), and Israel Museum Jerusalem (2018, Jerusalem).

Group shows Eliav has participated in include The Genia Schreiber University Art Gallery (2007, Tel Aviv), Hanina Center for Contemporary Art (2008, Tel Aviv), Museum of Bat Yam (2008, Bat Yam), Bezalel M.F.A Graduate Show (2009, Tel Aviv), Ein Harod Museum (2009, Ein Harod),  Braverman Gallery (2009, 2015, 2016, Tel Aviv), Glasgow School of Art (2009, Glasgow), Haifa Museum of Art (2009, 2015, Haifa),  Liverpool Biennial (2010, Liverpool), Leipzig International Art Programme (2014, Leipzig), Fondazione Giorgio Cini (2015, Venice), Pratt Institute (2016, Brooklyn),  Petach Tikva Museum of Art (2016, Petach Tikva), and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art (2017, Tel Aviv).

Eliav is the recipient of America Israel Grant Award (2004), Ministry of Culture Award for Young Artist (2008),  Encouragement Award by Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design (2008), Rappaport Prize for a Young Israeli Painter by the Tel Aviv Museum of Art (2010), Cité Internationale des Arts residency, (2013 Paris), Residency at Schir – Art Concepts (2013, Berlin), Leipzig International Art Program – LIA (2014) and the prestigious  Ministry of Culture Award (2017).

His works belong in numerous public collections including Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Nicole Julien Mattei Collection, Israel Museum, Tel Aviv Museum of Art Collection, C-Collection, Depardieu Collection, Tony Podesta Collection, Israeli Discount Bank Collection, ORS Collection, Art Partners Collection, Art Vantage Collection, Peggy Scott and David Teplitzky Collection, Serge Tiroche Collection, Dubi Shiloah Collection, Brandes Collection, Jaglom Family Collection, Hagit and Ofer Shapira Collection, Dubi Shiff Art Collection, Nili Lipman and Sara Szold Collection, Oli Alter Collection, Shemer Family Collection, as well as various private collections in Israel and abroad.