Untitled, 2008, oil on canvas, 50 x 30 cm, courtesy of the artist and Tavi Dresdner Gallery, Tel Aviv, photo: Ofer Nov
The figures in Yuri Kats's tiny paintings seem to be frozen in time. The sharp brushstrokes that created them seem as if they might dissipate the moment we avert our gaze. The same might happen with the flickeringly painted texture. The figures - some anonymous and others named and given professions - stand facing us against a uniform, unidentified background, as if stultified by the wretchedness of their own forlorn existence, giving up their bodies and their gaze over to the artist. The grotesque element in these works appears in the figures' body language, in their thin limbs, in their exposed gaze and in their mundane, all too human anonymity. Their marginal, silent existence becomes troubling, highlighting their otherness. The grotesque here actually originates in compassion, and has no irony. In Kats's earlier sculptures, perversity and cruelty trumped compassion, perhaps since those were self portraits. For Self Portrait as a Red Foal (2002), the artist grafted his image with a foal wearing rolled back underwear; in Self Portrait as Young Moon (2001) his slim, boyish figure resembles a scimitar-shaped phallic moon.
Born in Kiev, Ukraine, 1974; lives and works in Haifa