Whose work do you admire? What inspires you? (It doesn’t have to be an artist!)
I observe the world through very visual eyes and an open heart. Therefore I find myself inspired by beauty I find in art and culture, scenery, language, thoughts and, of course, people. My first instinct would be to talk about art and artists. The large colour fields made by the American artists Mark Rothko and Morris Louis are among my favourites. Their art is a constant source of inspiration for me due to the harmony and depth of their paintings.
I love art installations that take the simplest materials and create art that blows your mind. For example, the installation made from index cards by Tara Donovan, Nancy Rubins’ large scale installation made from ageing rocking horses, or the very particular wooden security space and machines created by Roxy Paine.
Creativity is everywhere. A month ago I browsed a magazine and saw a beautiful work of art that was actually a restaurant’s dish plate. It was so inspiring, I had to go there and experience it in person.
Since I paint only when inspired, I believe that I should “collect” inspirations.
I can spend hours watching trees and plants off my window; more than once I’ve painted a gesture to their beauty. When I bike in the park or along the promenade in Tel Aviv, my head is clear, my thoughts can be carried away and I can let myself be part of the beauty around me. Once I let it in I know it will be the catalyst for something wonderful waiting to be created.
When I look at your work, it seems to have moved from more literal to more abstract over time. What’s moved you in this direction?
The longer I dived into painting, the clearer it became to me that even the minimal interest I had in the subjects behind the painting faded. Now I am truly devoted to the tools of the abstract painting: the colour, texture and composition—and their expression on the canvas. As I developed my technique I found that the lack of subjects and the abundance of expressions available for me as an abstract painter satisfy me completely. Nevertheless, although abstract, my works do contain hints of figuration, mostly organic, optic or nature-oriented.
What reaction do you want people to have when they look at your art?
I create powerful paintings that speak for themselves and work on all different levels. They strive to capture a moment in time and invite the viewer to examine them, their creation process and the story embedded within.
I am fascinated by colours and textures and open a window for other people to worlds of wonder and beauty, and to emotional spaces that hold excitement yet to be reached. I believe in experiencing art and try to bring this opulence to whoever sees it. My art does not require explanations; it either “talks” to you and you experience it through your heart and mind or, unfortunately, you do not connect to its multiple levels, although you may always enjoy its beauty.
The curator Joshua Simon wrote nicely: “The colour in Rotem Reshef’s paintings changes one from a viewer to a seer. From one who relates to an object or an image, the viewer in front of her works becomes a seer. Colours, shapes, sizes and light appear in front of her.”
Have you always known this is what you wanted to do? Or has the journey been less clear?
Ever since I remember myself I was a very creative person. As a teenager I used to have exhibitions in my room, from a door I found, painted and turned into a ready-made object to an orange fishing rope I carried home from the beach and hung on the wall.
I spent hours on creating by myself and with the guidance of others.
Later, I loved art school and was among the students who were very much anticipated as artists. However, in my senior year I had some incidents with one of my mentors that came to a climax in the end-of-year graduates exhibition, followed by a long period in which I stopped painting all together.
Fifteen years later, in 2003, a burglar stole two of my paintings from my parents’ house. Nothing else was stolen! It was a sign for me that I had to go back to painting. I understood that while I was raising my kids and wondering what I should be doing professionally in my life, the answer was always there, waiting for me to be one with myself once again.
Moreover, I continued to develop as an artist even in the years when I wasn’t actually painting and to my great satisfaction and relief, I haven’t stopped painting since.