Beni Gassenbauer paints large, luminous, figurative watercolors. This medium provides him with the necessary transparency for painting the Mediterranean light that is reflected in the brightness of the sun and penetrates the deepest shadow, creating breathtaking, intense color contrasts.
Beni invites us to enter the picture and search for the hidden. Therefore, he offers the viewer scenes of ancient gates, backyards, shadowed passageways and balconies. There, he transmits to the audience his deep feelings of tranquility and peace.
Beni Gassenbauer was born in 1949 in France and has lived in Jerusalem for forty years. He has studied with the best masters and art teachers in Israel. He has been selected to participate in numerous International Watercolor Exhibitions and had many solo shows around the world.
He is currently the head of the Israeli branch of the International Watercolor Society.
Gassenbauer’s medium is watercolor on paper and he very ably applies transparent layers of paint to create a very rich texture of sharp-focus images. He conveys a sense of drama and adventure in his color application, moving a seemingly random but nevertheless deliberate and rich pigment in the water puddle from the pale pinks of the morning light to the deep, dark shadows created by the harsh Mediterranean sun. This is Gassenbauer’s magic. His tools cannot be more prosaic, but with these simple elements he transforms the paper into a seemingly boundless field of space and light.
Gassenbauer seduces the viewer to pause and take notice of all the details – a tree, a rock, a wall, or the distant mountains enveloped in the special hue of desert light. The sheer accumulation of details gives a sense of energy and animation to the unpeopled compositions.
Particularly impressive, both from a visual and technical standpoint, is the artist’s interplay between the two-dimensional paper and the three dimensional space. Here, as in other works, Gassenbauer’s meditation on nature, while not intentionally religious conveys in it the immanence of the sacred.
Bezalel Academy of Art, Jerusalem
Invitation to gaze:
An invitation to gaze at watercolors is an invitation to wander. The eye wanders back and forth from one area to another, from the whiteness of the paper to the spot of paint, and within the spots – in and out of the shallow depth of the skins of paint. Each touch of the brush, each touch on touch, sketches not only the depiction of the house, mountain or object, but also the way that the brush has moved.
Beni Gassenbauer, an ex-dentist, doesn’t lay down the tool of his precise craft. With maximum attention he gives us the pleasure of being in the presence of beauty. The views he has discovered are presented to our eyes as an artist’s gift. Here is the open gate of house number 6 , we can go to the end of the path and back. The anemones expect us to take hold of them and lift them to our nostrils. The distant landscapes are also within the reach of hand and eye. The ability to touch doesn’t disappear, all the way through the width, depth and surface of the picture.
Beni’s pictures proclaim the victory of the eye. Nothing is missing. Every detail is caught in all its qualities, and every texture, light and weave is reconstructed with success. This willing dedication to the view of nature contains within itself the belief that beauty is embodied in the objects themselves. That our world contains views that are worth experiencing, that the artist through his powers of sight and his painting, is capable of bestowing them as a gift.
For Beni, the act of painting is mainly the way of experiencing reality and through it “catching” beauty .
Art historian, curator, Jerusalem
Beni Gassenbauer sees his subjects through the eyes of French Impressionism, the « Barbizon » rural realism, the romanticism of purification in nature, through the lenses of the entire period, until Cezanne.
And so he observes from the perspectives that nourish him in the depths of the landscape. Thus he finds here the harmony of land and sky, in which the earth is heavenly, the awesome desert, he observes the realism of towering cliffs or groups of clouds, sometimes painted as a Chinese watercolor, or like Turner, blurring of light and material, capturing so many expanses. Whichever style, it is pure estheticism of brush strokes and joyous contact with paper. Whatever way, they are beautiful pictures. Will we allow the expulsion of the esthetic from the world? The answer lies with the spectator.
In Gassenbauer’s views of Jerusalem, the desert meets the culturization of the exalted romance and the mobilization of the purely esthetic. This is no longer a wondrous encounter with the secrets of nature, but to the contrary: it is the change of familiar surroundings, the surroundings recorded with a gifted hand, their conversion to something secret, something poetic, to an « elsewhere ». It is the mystification of the familiar, a blurring of the known and its removal from consciousness to the pure esthetic.
SAFRAI FINE ART GALLERY
Beni Gassenbauer’s watercolors evoke a lost paradise and an evanescent magic. Beyond period, styles and « isms » of art, Beni Gassenbauer expresses his love for Jerusalem with simplicity, poetry, generosity, and talent. In this way he invites us to enter his miraculous world.
From his master, Marek Yanai, Beni Gassenbauer learned the true value of watercolor technique – the delicacy of the palette, the caressing touch of the brush, the softness of texture, the harmony of curves, and above all the expression of contrasts and highlights against the beautiful whiteness of the paper.
Beni reminds me of the freshness, purity, and authenticy of those pioneers of Israel art who came from the occident, inspired by their ideal of the ancestral homeland, in order to capture the light of the orient.
Mayanot Gallery, Jerusalem