TEL AVIV.- The exhibition "Happy Days" features a body of work by jeweler Shirly Bar-Amotz, mostly created in the past year. Most of the works are round silver brooches, marked by rich imagery and a vibrant palette. Bar-Amotz meticulously constructs miniature sculptures: landscapes populated with swans, bears and rabbits, as well as circus animals like elephants and lions, immersed in colorful balloons and lights. At first sight, there is a sense of a merry carnival or celebration. A second glance, however, reveals that the animals are stuck: some are drowning in a mound of paint that prevents them from moving; others are trapped among trees, strings and balloons.
Both the jewelry imagery and the pastoral readymade landscapes that Bar-Amotz "stains," which are also on view in the exhibition, convey a longing for a memory long gone. They represent the diasporic European culture of Israel's founders, a material culture that Zionist society suppressed and erased in its endeavor to create a new culture.
Bar-Amotz's contemporary, free craft work combines traditional materials and techniques with synthetic materials and readymade objects, employing her own novel ways of processing materials. Her detailed, colorful, glittering works break the conventions of beauty in the jewelry scene.
The new aesthetics, the conceptual basis of her work, and her uninhibited use of materials are all typical of current global artistic jewelry-making tendencies. The issues tackled by Bar-Amotz, however, have to do with questions of local identity and social values. In her current series, under the guise of carnivalesque vibrancy, the animals are deeply stuck in the reality surrounding them.