Increasingly abstract, Ardon’s works of the late 60’s show a “ tendency to eliminate the boundaries and unify the terrestrial and the celestial – in an attempt to reach an infinite and universal world …. In the following years, Ardon continued to use luminous colors and intricate surface textures, while his landscape views seem to become more infinite, expanding into eternity.” (Arturo Schwarz, Mordecai Ardon, Landscapes of Infinity, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 2003).
In The Awakening, earth and sky merge into a single, luminous whole. Dappled light, wind and scudding clouds, celestial bodies or precious minerals from the earth are all evoked in an immense and dazzling composition, where much is left to the viewer’s imagination. Unusually large in scale, The Awakening speaks directly to the artist’s longing for primordial nature: “I am longing for the first opening of a child’s eye – for the first wonder – for first facts.” (Michelle Vishny, Mordecai Ardon, New York, 1973, p. 41-42).
As early as 1949 Ardon spoke of the mystical aura that emanated from the land of Israel. To him, the majestic power of the land was a constant source of inspiration and revelation. Several of Ardon’s works from the late 60’s and early 70’s include a mysterious text, a sort of amuletic writing referencing the traditional Jewish belief in the power of words. In describing Milky Way above Samaria, 1969, and Midnight Prayer, 1970, Schwarz notes that both works include “letters of an unknown but propitious alphabet.” (op cit. p. 29). Similarly, in the present work we note several small indecipherable messages, amuletic signs, that add yet another layer of meaning.
The surface The Awakening is an extraordinarily rich tapestry of colors and textures. Ardon ground his paints by hand, achieving an exceptional range of lustrous colors. In this work, patches of brilliant color contrast with large areas of white and paler shades of mauve, pink, pale green and yellow. Ardon’s paintings achieve a unique “glow, a brilliance, an intensity, and a transparency that is only his own”.(Schwarz, p. 15). For Ardon, one of the greatest challenges was to succeed with a palette that was largely white. Towards the end of his life he spoke to his son of his aspiration to conquer white color, which he found so much harder than black. “The White is so difficult” he said, but it was a palette to which he returned in each decade of his life. (Schwarz, p. 23). Filled with brilliant white light and glowing colors, The Awakening is one of Ardon’s crowning achievements.
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