Penny Hes Yassour – Exposed Landscape

Yaniv shapira


The works featured in Penny Hes Yassour's latest exhibition include drawings and sculptures that all bear an identical title, No*so*no*rous The reciprocal relations between these two mediums are part of Yassour's ongoing study of the relationships between body, space, language, landscape and architecture.[1] Her most recent works are significantly shaped by the local environment, especially in terms of their representation of the landscape.  

Drawing, Drafts, Erasure

The drawings in the Spatial Drafts which Yassour exhibited at the Gordon Gallery in 2004, were large-scale, highly detailed works, that suggested new ways of thinking about her art. As events on paper that simulated real space, they enabled her to engage in both physical and mental experimentation. The result was a new cartography of sorts, created through dragging, erasure, rubbing, tearing and mending; vestiges of architectural spaces that had disintegrated into the open landscape and had become one with it.

The drawings in the No*so*no*rous series continue to build upon these earlier developments. This is a series-in-progress, which has occupied a central place in Yassour's work over the past three years. Its name, which contains the word "sonorous," alludes to a sound resonating in space. Yassour ruptured this word into separate syllables, and added to it the syllable "No," which implies negation. She thus created a hybrid title, which is pronounced in an endlessly repetitive manner. In his psychological and philosophical examination of space in The Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard touches upon the elusive essence of poetic imagery. He argues that poetic imagery has its own unique mode of being, due to the contradictory circumstances in which it exists: "In reverberation […] we find the real measure of the being of a poetic image. In this reverberation, the poetic image will have a sonority of being." [2]

            In the series No*so*no*rous, Yassour disrupts the sonoric conditions by searching for an infinite space, in which the sound waves do not echo (that is, there is no resonance). She attempts to represent a physical spatiality that cannot be delimited, a continuous present characterized by destruction, dismantling and erasure. It is always the same space which constantly duplicates itself, and the essence of its movement is assimilation through change.

            The No*so*no*rous drawings are not studies; they have an independent presence, and their scale tends towards the monumental. The series' internal logic lies in the transition from figuration to abstraction, from closed to open forms, from architectural representation to landscape formations. "In these drawings there is an attempt to rethink spatiality in relation to the body," says Yassour. "In the past, some of my drawing series were based on the idea of giving three-dimensional expression to an action in space. In this series, the drawings emerged without my having to think of them as something else. They created a new and autonomous possibility while simultaneously leading to the next strategy, to the creation of the works in space." [3]


Sculpture, Impression, Camouflage

Yassour does not feel comfortable with the definition of her works as sculptures. She describes them as existing in a hybrid state shaped by contradictory conditions, concepts and materials. The movement between these different modes of expression began in the studio, in the course of the work process: while the drawings were created on paper affixed to a wooden wall, which allowed for erasing and rubbing, working with the material required another technical solution. Paradoxically, the drawings were laid on the floor, becoming a template or a model. Yassour overlaid them with a crisscross of threads; using spontaneous hand gestures, she then covered them with a liquid material she has developed. The impression of her gestures and bodily movement is significant in these works, endowing them with human vitality and a human rhythm. Nevertheless, she notes her limited control of the final result: "I 'draw' with the material; but the moment it comes into contact with the support, it solidifies as it expands – so that my control of it is only partial."

            The result is a series of works resembling nets. According to Yassour, they were shaped by an attempt to create a new entity, a hybrid of sculpture and drawing: "By means of the drawings, I question processes that are based on spatial depth.  This constitutes a kind of elimination, or condensation, of the dimension of distance. The original qualities of spatiality are absorbed in these nets into a new configuration, 'a third other', for which I have no name. The texture of the resultant surface creates a tension between organism and mechanism; it spreads out in all directions, producing an increasingly expansive surface."

            Penny Hes Yassour's net works are filled with stains, holes, lines and folds that adhere to the flexible grid of threads. The result is a chain of events, multiple movements in space, non-hierarchical internal relations. She defines it as "A net in which there is no one position on the web of lines making up the rhizome, nothing but a series of connected points that create links between things. There is no hierarchical order, no center, no defined exit or entry point. The distribution is anarchic and free, creating a space that has no organized structure, and which may be thought of as nomadic."


GreenBlueprint (Lament)

The second part of the exhibition contains the work GreenBlueprint (Lament), whose title alludes to its status as a document-elegy. This work was created prior to Deep Skin, which was exhibited last year at the Herzliya Museum, and which similarly attests to the dismantling of a structure. Its form resembles a three-dimensional space condensed into a two-faceted surface, whose parts are at once alien to one another yet inextricably welded together.  Everything that was originally vital has been cast into this new spatiality and scorched into it. Like the changing appearance of the works in the No*so*no*rous series, here too there is a silence suppressing a cry of destruction, muteness and displacement.


The combined display of the "No*so*no*rous" series and of "GreenBlueprint (Lament)" exposes the hidden and concealed presence of the landscape in Yassour's work.                             Its resonance is now directed, more than ever before, towards views identified with familiar, local landscapes and with related concepts – including "camouflage," "concealment" and "silencing."


[1] For an examination of Yassour's earlier works, see: Galia Bar Or, "Mental – Monumental," in Penny Yassour, Museum of Art, Ein Harod, 1995, pp. 21–38 [Hebrew]. 

[2] Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space, Beacon Press, Boston, 1969, p.xii.

[3] All comments by Penny Yassour quoted in this essay were made in conversation with the writer, November–December 2007.