top of page

Yael Hila Kaplan Visual Artis / On the Outside of Things

On the Outside of Things

A photograph, we have been taught, is limited by three defining parameters: the time it was taken, the borders of the frame, and the manipulations it goes through in the dark room or, more recently, the computer. When the choice of a precise micro-second – Henri Cartier - Bresson’s The Decisive moment – corresponds with the content of the frame, its borders, spatial balance, depth of field, action, and together they receive the matching treatment in printing and touching the developed image, one faces a good, .not to mention a perfect photo. Or so we have been taught.

The Israeli artist Yael Kaplan challenges those notions of "how to create" and "what is" an exemplary photographic image by expanding and dismantling the very parameters that define the medium. In some of her works, events or objects press on the frame from the outside, or things in it point to what lies beyond; in other photos, the image comes after the event or anticipates it; and in most, her control of the post-shooting techniques makes sure that what you get is not what you see.

This should not suggest that Kaplan is not versed in the history of art in general and particularly that of photography. Her images betray a painterly sensitivity that dialogue both with traditional genres (the portrait, still-life, landscape) and styles (Post-Impressionism, Pre-Raphaelites,) and photography's masters (in particular Julia Margaret Cameron, Diane Arbus, Sally Mann, Cartier - Bresson) but all with a twist, and with taking into account important art-historical gestures, especially Gerhard Richter's investigations of the relationship between painting and photography.


Kaplan is also a painter, and the few examples in the her website clearly demonstrate that, reversing the arrow of reference the same can be argued about her paintings– that they have a particular, manipulated, photographic quality. It is not to suggest that they are "based on" photographs, but rather that in the same manner that her photographs express painterly qualities, her paintings nod towards the mediumatic specificities of photography. I would suggest that the meeting ground of the two media – the no-man's land between photography and painting – is the ground Kaplan wants to uncover and reestablish.

Gilad Melzer*, 2008 ©

* Head of Art seminary studies, Beit Berl academy of art. Art critic, Editor & Scripter. Curator.

AW Collection
bottom of page