The painter is a stranger
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.
Jerusalem, October 1994