Yael Scalia paints poetic moments of perception, the most particular light and point of view with a hand which make her paintings a pleasure. Painting summers in Italy has deepened her relationship with Roman and Italian painting, but what captivates in her work is the enigma and sense of striving to articulate a feeling which can actually only be suggested. I always feel that Yael is painting to capture a fleeting insight, not only a fleeting glimpse of her world.
Yael Scalia was born in New York City and studied at the Rhode Island School of Design and the Maryland Institute, College of Art. She has lived and worked in Jerusalem since 1984. She was represented by the Ice Gallery, New York, and her work is included in numerous public and private collections internationally. Eitan Cohen STUART SHILS ON THE WORK OF YAEL SCALIA I can still feel the resonance of visual delight from four years ago when I first encountered a painting by Yael Scalia. Stopping unexpectedly in front of the most curious composition, I lingered at the wall where the muted tonal poem hung, asking myself who could have made this painting and why something so small and so unpretentious wouldn’t let go of my eyes. Everything about the image spoke eloquently. Neither superficially deft in execution nor bravura in spirit, it was characterized by a distinctively honest perceptual clarity that was refreshingly self-effacing yet provocative. Since then, whenever I travel for teaching, I always take along (among other reproductions both historical and current) a printout of that painting to show students. And no matter where I am or with whom, every single time I’m asked the same three questions: whose painting is that, can I please see it more closely, and why am I not familiar with her work? Over the last few years I’ve seen much more and have had conversations with Scalia as well, and she continues to make compelling paintings. From the current show, the apparently minimal “House on Rehov Tzfat” is so seemingly restrained in its scope, so limited in quantity of information offered, yet so potent within the context of its internal visual ambitions. It is brief and compelling - a chunk of building, a weird piece of tree, a sliver of sky – not orchestral or ornate, but we are pulled into the spell of recognition. Scalia understands that the ordinary is anything but that. New to me, the still lives are an enormous surprise and are among my favorites of this collection. “Still Life With Rosebuds” and “Still Life With Coffee Bag and Lemons” read as shrewdly understated complexity and deeply felt mystery. What we are seeing here is not nature per se, but the nature of a painter looking. To paraphrase the words of Paul Valery, Scalia is a painter who has made us feel what she feels before nature, and in painting nature has painted herself. Stuart ShilsPhiladelphiaUSA