Musical Timing by Miri Krymolowski

Baruch Elron“There is music in the air, it surrounds us, the world builds itself upon it, every one of us can get what one wants from it.” Edward Elgar

When we look at Baruch Elron’s paintings it feels like getting on a journey. A time travel to distant shores, and even, maybe, a journey toward the depths of the human soul.The present exhibition concentrates on two important subjects in Elron’s works: time and music. Two themes of rather important symbolic value in surrealist art, which most of Elron’s creations belong to. Why then does Elron belong to surrealism? In principle, because he paints, with refined realism and impressive craftsmanship, characters, objects and nature scenes which seem perfectly real, instead the connections and relationships he is setting create a new world, a fantastic, enigmatic one, a world that raises questions about our being here and now.

When Andre Breton defined the surrealist movement (in the Surrealist manifesto), he required from art ”pure psychic automatism” by which it is intended to express, either verbally or in writing, the true function of thought. ”Thought dictated in the absence of all control exerted by reason, and outside all aesthetic or moral preoccupations”. Everything making us believe that there is a certain spiritual point where life and death, reality and imagination, past and future, the high and the down, all these cease to be perceived as contradictory.

Surrealists like Elron have insisted on rendering such ”self representations” as most accurate descriptions, at the same time taking them out of their normal media and relationships.

In more than a few works, Elron employs time as a subject. Thus, he clearly gets closer to surrealist artists from the beginning of the 20th century, especially Salvador Dali, who has been trying to represent time as a fluid concept, evading control.

One of the most impressive paintings by Baruch Elron, with time as the main theme, is ”All is in his hands”, from 1995. The painting depicts a character, dressed in brilliant red, half imersed in the sea, the same infinite space whose limit we cannot perceive. The source in the shape of a circle appears to simbolize the time cycle, or maybe the clock itself, made up of several watches floating along inside of air bubbles. Among the flying watches: a bird, as a symbol of the soul, a fish, as a symbol of sacrifice, the abyss – meaning the end but also a (new) beginning.

Elron used to paint his characters in images that are his own reflexion. Maybe even here he alludes to the same identity? The character is positioned within a glowing aura, resembling the sun. Looks like Elron, who was ill for a long period of time, feels as if he had been leaving in the netherworld. Time is following him, and, like a magician, helps him to preserve his balance. The balance of the biological time, at least.

No doubt that this chapter in his life is connected to a subject very meaningful in the history of art – ”vanitas”, the vacuum of the human existence, our ’from dust we came and to dust we shall return’. Likewise, in the works where he creates connections between musical instruments, Elron does not for a moment leave out the human being as a character, or the metaphoric expression of the human condition. Elron paints celloes, double basses, trumpets, even violins. He anthropomorphises each and every musical instrument and turns it into a breathing human body. Generally a woman’s body, but not always. Instruments as the cello or the double bass (the viola as representation for the woman body is not a novelty in the art world) looks like they are perfect for it – the body of any musical instrument with long cords suits the warmth of the womanly body, only that the paintings suddenly invent quite surprising connections. For example, in the painting ”I” (2003), where the double bass is ”dressed” in a long, decent dress, the head covered with a delicate veil. The lady is seated in an imaginary scenery and looks like she would be playing her own body.

The relationship woman-musical instrument is clear in most works, but even here Elron tricks us, because we do not know which is the dominant figure – the woman or the instrument.

The metal blowing instruments gather some new forms, always in connection with the hands. A hand takes hold of the instrument; the other hand holds the trumpet like a flag; in the painting ”Musical notes”, a hand, exiting a trumpet, carefully writes musical notes. In these works, Elron connects music with the muse of artistic creation, and expresses his love for art by underlying the importance of music for the human life in general, and particularly for his life.

In the painting „Untitled” from 1926 he creates a male being on the stave. In yet another work he associates an impressive male torso with the biggest instrument in an orchestra, the drums.

Writer Nathan Shaham once said that when we are listening to music, we are in fact listening to ourselves. It is only fair to assume that many of Elron’s creations with this subject could be connected with this remark.

The relationship between works structured on time and on music subjects is a most demanding, heavy connection – in all the paintings featuring musical instruments time is difficult to appraise. It is as if here, in creations dealing with time and the atemporal, everything floats between sky and earth, our existence included.

In the last series of paintings before his death (one work has remained orphaned, unfinished) he returns to the theme of time. The main characters are beautiful women surrounded by various clock forms, especially sandglasses – under each of these women, variants of the old Latin dicta about the passage of time: time flies, time destroys everything. There lingers here the ideea of ”vanitas” as well; no doubt because he was then so deeply concerned by the frailty and ephemerity of time. Surprising it is still the fact that he chooses to illustrate this idea by means of a woman’s tears. His most powerful work in the series is that of a woman painting. Besides her, an imaginary bird with brilliant blue plumage (the fact that the bird is a symbol of the human soul is not to be forgotten), and on the background a fantastic, un-earthly landscape. On the table next to the woman painter the following is written: ”art is long, life is short”, while on the colours box Elron ironically puts his name. It is this painting that sets to clarify, beyond any need for words, the artist’s attitude to his life and art.

Through both themes, time and music, Baruch Elron is sending us in a kind of an adventure – a spiritual adventure, indeed towards the depths of our souls.

From: Niram Art Israel