My name is Mally Elbaz Almandin.Almandin is a purple gem, which has been an inspiration to my creativity andworldview. For me, it symbolizes a natural, basic foundation that reflects boththe field stones that I played with as a child and the milestones in our lives.My work consists of tiny stones, atom like, particles that crystallize intomolecules, into cells from which the whole process of creation is born. Thechoice of materials, technique, images and composition are born from thelaborious work of marking the circles of stones. It is a slow, repetitive,ceremonial marking that conjures up complex childhood memories.
I was born in Israel, in the city ofAfula, to parents who immigrated from Yemen. My grandfather and father weresewing and embroidery craftsmen in Sanaa, Yemen. My father used to sew wool andsheepskin sweaters for the king in Yemen. Before his death, my father taught methe traditional Yemenite embroidery.
As a child in a family of eight,whose parents worked for a living, my grandmother was a dominant figure in mylife. Twice a day I used to go out to graze herd of sheep with her. Thecultivated fields of the Jezreel Valley, the colorful landscape, the width ofthe sky, the wild plants and the animals were an intriguing space for me toexplore, play and socialize. These memories are translated into images from thenatural world, that serve as a visual and emotional language in my work:branches that turn into dolls, leaves of eucalyptus trees that resemble ablanket, a land that became my first "canvas", on which I engraveddry twigs.
The stones are the basis for mychildhood memories in my works, but also for the distortion and dissolution ofthese memories. The tiny stone chains create misleading, shaky lines in theworks, which unify the uniform picture of the world and expose it as adisjointed painting. Like a biography composed of pieces of life rather than asingle movement of time, my images are a collection of complex moments that areformed and broken apart in one act. This dynamic, which characterizes my work,creates a sense of liberation but at the same time of chaos, freedom anddisturbance. This is the tension that underpins my work, which has beeninternationally recognized and presented in exhibitions around the world.
My artistic language is influenced bymy cultural, material and psychological roots. My work manifests experiencingin a variety of material technologies - from traditional embroidery to oilpainting. From the traditional repertoire, I adopt colorful and colorful motifsof folklore, and process them freely as an expression of memory, dream, or apicture of a horrifying imagination. The decorative expression is amanifestation of an abundant colorfulness flooding a skeptical, doubleperspective of a woman-child.
My work is a reflective research andself-discovery, partly unconscious and partly self-conscious. I use loosefabrics, not stretched ones, as used in sewing or embroidery crafts. Thepainting begins on its own, with no sketch and no prior planning. The fabriclies on my leaves or spread out on the kitchen table, allowing me to sink intoit and break away from the surroundings. At first, I cover the acrylic fabricout of a sense of total freedom, no composition, legality or clear boundaries.Sometimes painting extends beyond the boundaries of the canvas. I am suckedinto a private, mythical world, allowing things to emanate from within me forhours. The images are created without conscious intervention on my part andwithout control.
In the second stage, I remove thework and look at it. The images flood me with strong memories and feelings. Atthis stage, I concentrate on the details, weaving the story out of the emotionsthat float in me. The work of painting becomes a work of art and is dividedinto thousands of tiny components. I mark them with oil and later return tothem with ink, surrounding each and every stone and seal it with a dot.
The Sisyphean, obsessive process is part of the work. The numerouslayers, the repetitive movements and details, present a massive double worldview. The gaze of the grown-up girl floats the gaze of the lonely girl I was.What is memory? Whose image is of the world? Who controls it? I feel that theentire work is harnessed into an act of questioning, doubting, of uncertainty,but also the act of unequivocal, optimistic material presence, within the world.