Yesterday evening, it was my pleasure to travel for the first time on the new city tram here in Jerusalem; an occasion in itself. But the purpose of my trip, was to attend the opening of Jacqueline’s first one man show at the City Gallery on Jaffa street in downtown Jerusalem.
Jacqueline van den Driest was born in Holland (1961), and immigrated to Israel by herself in 1982. She studied history in the university here and went on to get a masters degree in communication, specializing in translation. She, and her husband and their children live in a small town just outside Jerusalem. Aside from her painting she is also an instructor of Qigong and Tai chi chuan. Qigong is a traditional Chinese philosophy and the practice of aligning breath, movement, and awareness for the health of mind, body, and spirit.
I had seen some of Jacqueline’s paintings before, when they appeared on the web page of her town’s community center, and I was impressed by her unique and individual style. But it is always different to see paintings live. And the city gallery is well lit, and so it was a pleasure to study her work.
At first I was strongly attracted to one of her paintings. After studying it for a while, I stepped back, and tried to take in the exhibition as a whole. Looking at the many paintings on the wall, some of them tucked in little niches in the hall, I got the impression of a strong graphic point of view. The composition dominated the ‘look’ of her work, and in a number of images, the faces were reduced to an abstract, colorful, representative shape. The work was figurative, but quite abstract. But as I approached those images that I found most interesting, I found myself moved by strong emotions. Many of her pictures told a story.
The name of the exhibition is ‘Far From Home’, and according to a leaflet I found at the gallery, this collection of Jacqueline’s work relates to a certain distance that the Dutch born artist feels here in her adopted country, both from a philosophical and spiritual perspective. Jacqueline adds that most people eventually find themselves far from home. The leaflet also points out, that aside from her memories of childhood landscapes, many of the paintings are in fact a type of self portrait. And though the pictures were abstract, I felt that they exposed a very intimate view of a woman’s spirit.
In my work as a photographer, I have prepared countless ‘reproductions’ of artistic work. It is a demanding craft, and the objective of the reproduction is to present the artist’s work exactly as one would see it, looking at the image itself. Unfortunately, this demands very special tools and methods which were impossible at a social occasion such as the opening of an exhibition. And so the pictures that I have presented here in this post are not accurate reproductions of the works themselves. I fear that the colors are slightly off. But I hope that they give the reader a taste of what I enjoyed last night. To those of my readers in the Jerusalem area, I recommend a visit to the Municipal Art Gallery, on 17 Jaffa Road, opposite the Safra Square. The exhibition will be open till the 7th of October.