For about three years Ray and I were trying to agree on an exhibition. This entailed a number of visits to his studio in the heart of the noisy and sooty industrial area of Tel Aviv, with each visit leaving me with a longing to return for the next.
Ray became known in Israel and in the wider world because of his extraordinarily colorful works. He takes us to a colorful world where fantasy is ruled by a simple childish joy, in which black contours are drawn around figures and objects. Ray has perfected a distinctive and humorous style devoid of coquetry.
We had made a decision to show a series of works which had not been previously exhibited to a wider public and excluded everything with which Ray was associated, even color.
The exhibition consists of “White Landscapes”. Thirteen works in oil on white canvas. The background forms a substrate of intensive actions of hiding and revealing, and it is of no less importance than the brush marks and images which it bears.
The works appear to be a break in the years of colorful creation. Most of the works are of the same size and are semi-abstract and sometimes they bear hints of an object, a figure, a story. The white background is different in each work; it is a rich base with a three-dimensional texture. The sensual richness of the background almost invites one to touch, to explore it. The works speak of silence, primeval freshness, space, existence and non-existence, about appearing and disappearing.
The works are based on, and deal with the core of Ray’s work – calligraphy, the source of his inspiration. His philosophical attitude to calligraphy as a theory of composition became clear in our talks. He sees calligraphy as a personal art, a discipline which can release one’s creativity. It deals with form, tension and relations. It is an art of form and a spiritual journey.
His work is based on preparatory sketches of rhythm and music, of signs and shapes. Music that is devoid of colors or composition of shapes, which, being colorless appears as a feast of color of another kind.