Noa Charuvi: Gal’Ed at York College Arts Gallery

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A painting of a landscape

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Noa Charuvi, Cairn, 2023, oil on canvas, 36×72 inches

45 Jacob took a stone and erected it as a pillar. 46 He instructed his kin, “Collect some stones.” They gathered stones, formed a heap, and shared a meal beside it. 47 Laban named it Jegar Sahadutha, while Jacob named it Galeed. 48 Laban declared, “This heap stands as a witness between us today.” Hence, it became known as Galeed.

Genesis, Chapter 31, Verse 45

A Gal’Ed symbolizes a location marked by significant events—deathly moments or sacrifices. As it appears in the Old Testament, it signifies a covenant. In Hebrew, ‘Gal’ is a heap of stones, and it is the same word for ‘wave.’ ‘Ed’ means a witness. This heap of stones becomes an emblem of the pact between Jacob and his father-in-law: their agreement not to harm each other’s possessions or families. Serving as a symbol of shared promises, Jacob sanctifies it, offering to God on this stone.

The eighteen paintings from 2009 to 2023 by Israeli-born New York-based painter Noa Charuvi at York College Fine Arts Gallery in Queens draw on this biblical concept of ‘Gal’ed.’ Her fascination with heaps of stones was born from her interest in architecture. “In its most basic form, a building is a pile of stones; In its final form, as a ruin, it is again a pile of stones,” she says. In Israel, finding a place devoid of a complex history ingrained in its ancient or modern architecture is challenging. “In school, you often take field trips to archeological sites and archeological museums, but little is spoken of more recent ruins,” she adds. Charuvi brings a sense of layered archeology and deconstructed architecture in her paintings, conjuring a sense of a specific place and transforming it into a personal excavation site of memories.

A painting of a destroyed building

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Noa Charuvi, Tel, 2009, oil on canvas, 59×82 inches
A painting of a building under construction

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Noa Charuvi, Beams, 2018, oil on canvas, 30×33 inches

Charuvi’s engagement with architectural forms stands out. Her upbringing in Israel, amidst a juxtaposition of ancient ruins, modern structures, and conflict zones, offers a distinct perspective through which she views her subjects and her current New York City landscape. For instance, in a standout painting, Monolith, two orange-striped channelizing drums so ubiquitous in New York City streets resemble two soldiers (or prisoners) guarding two sides of the ‘Monolith.’ The erected rectangular structure resembles a bunker, wrapped (or trapped) in an orange net that evokes barbed wire. The intense blue sky evokes a day in a Mediterranean locale, while the grayish concrete ground evokes a rainy day in Brooklyn. The image overall comes across as a landscape where the horizon and sky, often signifiers of open space and freedom in landscape painting, resonate here with enclosure and confinement.

A painting of a building and orange traffic cones

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Noa Charuvi, Monolith, 2020, oil on canvas, 30×24 inches
A painting of a room with a blue door

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Noa Charuvi, Big Gaps, 2020,  oil on canvas, 36×62 inches

The paintings also subtly hint at personal influences—Charuvi sees this exhibition as a Gal’Ed to her father, Dror Charuvi, who was an architect: “I spent many hours in his studio as a child. I accompanied him when he went to check on the development of buildings he designed. I had to listen to his lectures about architecture during our family trips to Europe. Then, I lost him when I was 21, just beginning my academic training,” she says. The exhibition is also a Gal’Ed to her father’s father. As a teenager, Shmuel Charuvi, a landscape painter, came to Palestine to study art and paint landscapes. “His dedication to painting runs in my blood,” she says. 

Finally, the exhibition is also a Gal’Ed for Charuvi’s life choices: “leaving Israel behind, coming to a foreign country to be an artist, putting down roots, looking for places and images that make me feel at home, and finding those in construction sites,” she says.

A painting of a cactus

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 Noa Charuvi, Kishkashta, 2023, oil on canvas, 50×72 inches

Transitioning between the landscapes of Israel and the dynamic rhythm of New York, interweaving history with biography, Noa Charuvi’s work evokes places that are both real and internal, instilling a sense of belonging and longing, carving out quiet moments of deep contemplation in a noisy world.

A room with white walls and paintings on the wall

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Installation view

September 14- October 20, 2023

Opening Reception and Talk with special guest Jean Marc Superville Sovak: September 28th 5:00-8:00 PM 

Gallery hours: M-F 9:30 AM- 4:30 PM 

Weekend by appointment 

York College Fine Arts Gallery 

94-20 Guy R Brewer Blvd., Jamaica, NY 11451

Please bring a photo ID