“My Soul is in the East and I am in the end of West.”
These verses of longing and desire, written by the 12th Century medieval poet Yehuda Halevi, who lived in Spain and longed to the land of Israel, capture the ambivalence of my existence and are central to the concepts behind my work. These feelings embody longing and desire of all uprooted people for their homeland. Although I have lived in America for the past thirty years, I was born and raised in Israel, and living between two cultures is at the heart of my work.
More than two decades ago, I moved with my family to the South, The move sharpened the contrast between my two worlds. At the same time, dramatic political and social events taking place in my homeland and around the world influenced me greatly and prompted me to respond artistically. My style has evolved from using overt metaphors and symbols to paintings that use more abstract hinting at representational motifs. I use strong contrasting colors, harsh lights, and rough textures to convey the sense of a ‘landscape’. These are ‘landscapes’ of memory to which I assign my own personal interpretations and where I express my reaction to current social and political events.
My paintings also convey the conflict between present and past. I grapple with a broken dream. Memories and experiences fill my soul and I cover and recover my canvas until the surface is built into a tangible record of multiple layers. I see the purity, beauty, and innocence of my childhood through a reality-testing eye and a mourning, painful heart that is almost empty because of loss. My subject matter is personal and specific, but also concerned with larger, universal themes. In an era of new hopes for peace, but of destructive events all over the world, I am moving between beauty and bloodshed, between building and destruction.
About the Artist
Orna Bentor is an award-winning artist, graphic designer, and art teacher who has lived and worked in both Israel and the United States. Since November 2003, following and exacerbation of her Multiple Sclerosis, Orna is no longer able to use her right hand to paint. Thus, she trained herself to paint using her left hand. Recently she is working with clay and exploring unique method of hand-building. Orna is an active member in ArtMix, a women artists group based in the High Country of North Carolina. The group meets regularly to create art, learn from, inspire each other, works collaboratively, and exhibit together.