I first saw Shirley Faktor’s powerful work in a private collection in California in the late eighties. I was drawn to this artist, and when I met her a few years later, in Jerusalem, she showed me some of her recent pastels. The ones I remember most were huge drawings of faces—none of them showed the whole face, just an eye or two, a nose, sometimes a mouth, and the emotion in these drawings was overwhelming. Here was an uncompromising artist, refusing to blot out what she saw, whether it be anguish, malice, radiance, or fear.
After forty years of drawing, Shirley Faktor began to paint. At that time she was in her late-fifties. One group of her paintings—which is shown here—investigates the intertwined themes of aging and beauty, and the state of being covered or uncovered.
As she says about this sequence, “‘The Dead Christ’ by Mantegna is the visual inspiration for ‘Portrait of a Marriage.’ Other images of new life and aging underscore the experience of impermanence. Flowers inhabit some of the paintings—flowers of feminity, death, birth, and peace. The paintings depicting fabric, material, and coverings are linked to the history of European painting while being both a metaphor for the immaterial part of being human and at the same time a splendid distraction from it. And the hand and the rose are human terrain for the meat of us and the soul of us . . .”
Handpainted 1, oil on canvas, 108x80cm.