Peephole into the Jungle, Kibbutz Yifat Gallery

Where does a painting begin? For artist Doron Wolf, it begins with life. Wolf captures
snippets of life, which he translates into painting.
The work process, says Wolf, “is of slow, laborious, painstaking painting done with small
brushes, against sources of inspiration created by painting together multiple smartphone
snapshots or images from the Internet.” As an artist in dialog with the photorealistic style of
painting, Wolf agrees to take part in reproduction,¹ the term coined by Walter Benjamin in
the first half of the 20 th century to describe post-Industrial Revolution culture, which
generates countless reproductions, copies of real or “natural” originals. Wolf does so
through the medium of figurative painting, inviting viewers to observe and interpret a
reflection of their own world.
Into his paintings Wolf “hunts” everyday moments embodying the banality of the synthesis
between artificial and natural. The environment evinces human intervention in the synthetic
lighting, the structured indoor living conditions, the presence of the dog – a domestic animal
– and the examination of humans’ gaze at “their” nature, the taxidermied nature in a
museum. The darkened museum hall is lighted by display boxes of lifelike dioramas, the
pinnacle of taxidermy. The dioramas, described by American taxidermy pioneer Carl Akeley
as “peepholes into the jungle”,² presume to deliver wildlife habitats to the heart of the city,
offering viewers a peek into knowledge and offering knowledge as truth.
The realistic reconstruction of wildlife is scientifically informed, and meant to generate awe,
admiration, and appreciation in the viewer. Awe at the size of the animal within hand’s
reach, awe at the primeval nature “untouched by man”, and appreciation for the artistic-
scientific discipline capable of reconstructing the scene and deliver it to us. The excitement
arises from the encounter between wild and domesticated, animal and human. The awe at
the medium of reconstructive sculpture restores man’s ability for awe at himself and his
achievements, rather than at the representation of flora and fauna. In fact, these works by
Wolf depict scenes of “dead nature”, nature morte in French, echoing Wolf’s attraction to
still life, which features in his work throughout the years, tempting with the eroticism of
plentiful, succulent representations.
Wolf employs a technique used by painters since painting began, to realistically present an
historical, religious, or mythical scene and create the illusion of lifelike imagery. Applying the
same technique to paintings of his own domesticity, he turns the painting into a sort of
diorama disclosing intimate moments – and the viewer’s eye to a peephole into his and his
partner’s lives.
Like a taxidermist, Doron Wolf tries to find how best to describe a home inhabited by a
couple of men of a dog. Through manipulations and transitions between moderators of
reality, he seeks to challenge the viewer with a direct, voyeuristic gaze between his sheets –
to provide a “peephole into the jungle”.

Noa Tsoran

¹ Walter Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.
² Haraway, Donna. “Teddy Bear Patriarchy: Taxidermy in the Garden of Eden, New York City,
1908-1936.” Social Text, no. 11 (1984): 20–64.

Text from Art History Class, The Gallery for Israeli Art at the Tivon Memorial Center, Kiryat Tivon.

Doron Wolf’s paintings require a lingering look to realize their full aspect. In his paintings, the array of objects looks arbitrary as an unintended snapshot of clutter left on the studio table. However, this is a symbolic and planned display referred to classical themes of ‘Still Life’ and ‘Vanities.’ His paintings are loaded with reflections and citations which combine high and low and subversive the notion of painting’s originality. The particular images were selected from various sources and recombined into a single composition. Oil painting is a practice that requires continuous and gradual work. Therefore, the combination with snapshot images and the making process of the painting signifies the tension between a fleeting moment to loiter examine; between a frenzied camera’s click and gentle and intimate staring while painting. In many of his paintings, a white light spot is presented, reflecting the painter or photographer. The flashlight simultaneously blocks the sight as well as immortalizes the moment of taking the image. An additional object in many of Wolf’s paintings is the mirror; this object is also presented in referred works such as ‘Las Meninas’ and ‘The Arnolfini Portrait.’ Thus, the reflections in the mirror create infinite concatenation of the image, pointing to the same notion of genuine work and duplication.

Michal Shachnai Yacobi