Testimonials & Press
Maccabit Malkin, poet and translator: Lines without words – 2012
Looking at the series of pastel on paper by the artist Shoshana Ernst based on Paul Cellan’s poem Death Fugue, one cannot imagine any other way to express the poetic atmosphere as Shoshana Ernst formed them.
These pastels were created after reading and interpreting the poem expressing death, fear, detachment and the constant troubling feeling that there is no end to suffering and to physical and emotional humiliation. The poet describes a place ruled by different ideas as if from another horrifying planet where people drink black milk and dig their own graves. A place ruled by evil and where we are being tortured with unimaginable cruelty.
Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night
we drink you at midday Death is a master aus Deutschland
we drink you at evening and morning we drink and we drink
this Death is ein Meister aus Deutschland his eye it is blue
he shoots you with shot made of lead shoots you level and true
Paul Cellan, Death Fugue, translated by John Felstiner
A few of the paintings show fire and smoke, ashes, in different shades of black-red-orange. Big and small black holes in unsettled, undefined shapes, perhaps shattered, perhaps scorched, hidden. In some of the other paintings, blue and green illustrate cold lonely floating figures and a black sinkhole. A portrait of the poet in black and blue shows terror and despair.
The background of these paintings is a powerful composition taken from an unfamiliar pallet.
Cellan speaks in a disrupted, choked voice. How can one write poetry about the Holocaust? From within the Holocaust? How is it possible to pass on the horror? The nightmare? The abstract forms in the paintings emphasize the voice in the poem, expressing the shatter, the grave, the bullet, the black death facing cold, blue cruelty.
The paintings are lines from the poems with no words. Together, they form an impressive and exciting series complementing the poem.
Dr. Irit Aharony, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2011
Women at times, have a longing for a vista, some panorama, some scenic representation. The feminine figure is topographical; horizontal planes, valleys, jutting precipices, and curved hills, all coming together in a harmonious unit; as well as appearances of musical instruments in shape and color.
In Shosh Ernst’s works curved lines begin and do not end softly. They slowly build to skin and sinews and tendons in a flowing sculpture. Every female image is not only a figure but also musical instruments. The strings of a woman’s body parallel the musical instrument strings, and piano keys. The surface of the female body grows natural shapes; tree trunks, which are transformed into musical instruments. The connection between the feminine figure and music creating a harmony blurs the borders between living and breathing creatures and inanimate nature.
The images are created with pure pigment, which allows the connection between painting and sculpture. So by creation in the artist’s studio the female figure is transformed into a garden or a concerto.
Laurie Mendenhall, The Daily Pilot, Laguna Beach, California, 1992
One of my favorite Orange County artists is Shosh Ernst, whose bold, vibrant colored canvases go way beyond the reach-out-and-touch-them affectation one would expect from paintings depicting war and its despair. Israeli-born Ernst, 45,who first came to the United States from Tel Aviv in 1977, instead creates abstract figurations which document destruction as it connects to rebirth, joy as it embraces melancholy, sadness as it evolves into love-emotional concerns she has dealt with most of her life. Although, she says she commits to canvas memories never to be forgotten, that same raw energy appears to be available for quiet forgiveness, hope and images of peace.
Accordingly, her new series of paintings currently on exhibit at the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, are imbued with solidarity and deep compassion for the destiny of the human race.
Last year’s Gulf War opened up familiar floodgates of anguish for her and intense feelings of fear and helplessness. Transforming these emotions into aggressive brush strokes of hot colors and broad textural imagery, Ernst simultaneously conveys passionate anger over the “storm” of war alongside an idealized vision of unity, sending a heartfelt message with all the riveting certainty of an electric current.
Stepping into Confusion, Ruti Mann, Kibbutz Hamaapil, Israel
Of those intense reds and deep blue haze
I felt as if carried on a journey of a child
for whom reflections are never mild,
but contrasting images of a Small Figure Solitaire.
Musical distortion of a blazing Prayer,
like that of Job’s Wife
who has known in life
but pain and strife.
Or Noah’s Doves in Search of Earth
pursuing New Life, a peaceful berth
to land their legs so tired from flight
After the flood of Lunacy in Black and White.
And as in times of old
your expressive colors and touch so bold
left me deeply moved and impressed
thinking how much the woman is blessed
who has this power at her command
to live and bring alive, through a stroke of a hand, a whole world of experiences, small or grand.
Kristin Erekson, The Jewish Advocate, 2006
For Brighton artist Shoshana Ernst, every brushstroke represents small pieces of her own Israeli culture. From vibrantly colored landscapes and the Sea of Galilee to abstract images of the female figure, Ernst believes all the subjects in her paintings bring awareness to those ï¿½memories of beauty and painï¿½ that touch her soul.
Daniella Walsh, The Orange County Register, 2005
Then again, in the realm of drawing, Shoshana Ernst’s “Eve” stands out thanks to its composition and palette. Pastel is a tricky medium and, for the most part, one either masters it as Ernst does or makes a mess.
Leslie Anderson, The Boston Globe, 2003
When Shoshana Ernst begins a figure painting she starts with realism. But it always evolve into something more abstract, more colorful, and ultimately more full of life than any realistic portrait could be… see the full article
Art Expo Preview, Los Angeles, 1997
A newcomer to Art Expo LA is Shosh Ernst. Her abstract acrylic and oil paintings, pastels and Iris prints depict abstract figuration that is full of energy and emotion. Critically acclaimed exhibitions on both coasts make Ernst one of the many new artists worth a visit to Art Expo LA. Her most recent body of work, one of which is pictured here, depicts the artist’s interpretation of Woman… “as Mother, formed of the earth and bearer of the Life Force, whose inexorable creativity drives her to produce and originate and construct.”
Miri Kubovy, Professor of Near Eastern Civilizations, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 1997
The most striking quality of Shosh Ernst’s work is her captivating burning colors. Whether blue or red, they are sheer lava, erupting from the entrails of earth, reaching directly into the spectator’s guts. In her art, color is transformed into the richest tactile texture which transcends to an overwhelming emotion. She elevates expression over form, but color becomes form, similar to the work of the English expressionist Frank Auerbach. Paint is at one and the same time mass, matter, color, energy and form.
Ernst’ most recent semi-abstract works, painted on black, cork-like embossed paper, disquieting as black boils, evoke excruciating, primeval states of mind. In her art, earth, blood, flesh, light and fire are inseparable. With the years her work is more daring, more painterly, her brush or fingers, more loaded. One is confronted with the passion and freshness of her vision. Her paintings converse with the spectator with extraordinary vigor, sensuality, joy, pain and forthrightness.
Ann Abott, Santa Ana Museum of Modern Art, Orange County, California, 1991
Shosh Ernst likes boldness in her works. “If something looks too quiet I have to put in some strokes to shake it up,” says the Israeli born artist. This strong physicality is evident in her entire body of work. A close inspection reveals that Shosh literally scrubs or gouges her paint onto or off the canvas. Either way, her figures seem almost always faceless. Sometimes these faceless forms take on mysterious tones that imbue them with silent power. Some appear haunted or bathed in pathos. But underneath the mantle of suffering lies a strong commitment to survival. In a word, the art of Shosh Ernst tells us to “choose life.”