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The painter is a stranger
Israel Hershberg

Shalom Flash is strange, an anomaly in the very society which bore him. Sixteen years of kibbutz incubation and the requisite stint at the local art college certainly qualify him unremittingly as a certified provincial thoroughbred. And yet, Shalom Flash appears to be a perfect stranger in his own country.

Many are the art school graduates (and Shalom was no exception at first) who set out on their odyssey abroad, regrettably, only to seek out the familiar. Few are they who are fortunate enough to fall upon an individual who is an inheritor of an authentic painterly legacy. And few are those who are willing to become truly a student in order to acquire a teacher. George Nick, a student of Edwin Dickinson, linked Shalom Flash to an artistic ancestral chain and painting legacy going back to Gustave Courbet.

This encounter was cathartic for Shalom, a purging. He was purged of the burdensome baggage of a past which mistakenly perpetuates the notion that the word is the only transmitter of thought and feeling, and a Byzantine present where the visual never transcends the semiotic, the sign. He was of a history profoundly anthropophobic. He was purged of a so-called new tradition and devotion to a vacuous utopian secularism. He was purged of the cerebrality of work and land and freed to embrace the sensuality of nature and craft.

Shalom returned to his home a stranger, and paints it as a wonderful stranger would, with humble Corot-like openness and directness, and the excitement of an unaccustomed eye. He paints this place freely, unencumbered by local myth, as would Worthington Whittredge, Van Dearing Perrinc, Edward Hopper, or Fairfeld Porter, had they visited and painted this place.

Shalom Flash is not part of the tribe. The language in which he is painting is a foreign one. These paintings are not painted in Hebrew, but neither is true intuition in Hebrew, or for that matter in any other spoken language. True intuition is what one needs to enter the work of Shalom Flash.

Israel Hershberg
Jerusalem, October 1994