Coming on the heels of his abstract work of the mid to late 1910s, the Jerusalem paintings can at first appear a remarkable volte-face by an artist who had seemed to be at the forefront of the avant-garde. However, it seems that Bomberg himself felt that these paintings were an extension and widening of the prime interest of the earlier paintings, that of pictorial structure. As with many of his avant-garde contemporaries, the example of the First World War had caused a re-evaluation of the path his work was taking, and by moving back towards a more representational manner, he allowed himself to rebuild his working methodology.
The way that these varied needs were brought together is perhaps best seen in the smaller sketches of the Palestine period. The present work and the following lot are both extremely freely handled, with thickly brushed strokes of paint being used to build a physical surface that mirrors the blocky architecture. Details are almost completely banished, with the nuances of shadow being the vehicle by which the spatial recession of the subject is constructed. As the image is simplified, so the palette tends to also be confined to a small range of colours, mostly creams, ochres, reds and browns with the occasional touch of blue. Thus, the extremely rigorous strictures within which Bomberg is working reflects the extreme simplification that he had introduced into his earlier compositions such as The Vision of Ezekiel of 1912 (Coll. Tate Gallery, London).
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