Hana Barak Engel
Ahuva Sherman is enchanted with the scenes around her. She observes her surroundings, forms impressions and voices her personal interpretation. The cities she depicts from a bird’s-eye view are treated almost abstractly, with hints of expert knife work creating magical contours, and tiny houses emerging from fields and hilltops adding pleasant and inviting shapes. Her beautiful seascapes are skillfully painted, and infused with calm and longing at the same time. Her ability to translate what she sees around her on the canvas has the hallmark of a great talent and of skills acquired over many years.
The White Cities she has painted over time have evolved into a body of work in and of itself and at first glance reminded me of Maurice Utrillo, who had to struggle with white to extract all possible shades of the walls in Paris from it. Much like him, Sherman has managed to work with the gleaming color of white and turn it into shades depicting reality, or a possible reality. This series of paintings, first inspired by her early childhood in Little Tel Aviv, has since evolved and detached itself from reality, turning into magical Mediterranean towns, reminding us of real places like Carmona in Spain - one of the earliest inhabited settlements on earth - and of course the amazing Santorini (Thira).
These themes recur in Sherman’s art over many years, each time with a new and fresh twist, with a distinct angle and perspective, resulting in a totally different statement that keeps us interested in her body of work. Her strong sense of aesthetics is never apologetic, as this is the way the artist chooses to see her world: clean, graceful and inviting. There is no misery, no hardship, no soul searching. Her world is whole and crystal clear.
There are many distinguished exhibitions in Sherman’s past, both in Israel and abroad. Her work can be found in many private and public collections, including Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands. She is a recipient of the Hermann Struck Prize, and was recently awarded the Notable Citizen of Haifa award for her work with immigrant artists. Living among Sherman’s art is easy and pleasing, the clear and lucid world depicted in her paintings both fun and alluring.
Over her decades of work, the artist has created for herself an alternate, improved and aesthetic reality in which she prefers to exist, and we join her, dreaming of that possible reality, free of ugliness and evil, with the lack of human detail allowing for this peaceful and clean illusion to exist, if only on the canvas. This outward cleanliness of her art stems from an inward and deeply rooted cleanliness, an existential harmony picturing the actual and the possible.