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Shirley Faktor

Portraits of Evil, Israel, 1985

3 works, pastel on paper 74x104 cm

The paradox in the current portraits of evil is that they build up "power" and tear it down, simultaneously. Thus they express the duality deep in the artist's soul: the attraction toward evil, toward the power of destruction, toward (self) destruction, but also the attraction toward the good, toward love and fertility, toward art. These blackened works herald death, which only the act of creation can save one from. A Faustian battle with Satan. A difficult battle where even the sensuality (reflected in the touches of color) can be perceived as diabolical.
Evil demons are springing from the artist's being (from her collective consciousness), but she is fighting against them, refusing to succumb.

Will artistic success ensure her psychological and existential victory? Surrounded by these demons (the portraits are like the large demonic masks used in tribal spirit-raising ceremonies, and indeed, Shirley confronts the tribal spirits of Israeli society as it veers to the right), Shirley tries to rid herself of the evil, only to find herself fascinated by it. Kahana's portrait has been worked on so intensively, it seems the artist did not want to stop. His face will be erased with an outburst of passion. At times, the political metaphor is only a dull, sub-conscious echo.
The viewer is not even called upon to identify the subject. He only senses that evil is being dealt with. What begins with realism ends with abstraction, what begins with forcefulness ends in capitulation. Thus Shirley Faktor's Portraits of Evil can be seen as a victory over the Satanic.

Dr. Gideon Ofrat