Back to Galloping exhibition


Curator : Dr. Doron J. Lurie

Despite appearances at first glance, Beverly Barkat does not paint horses. Barkat depicts energy, as well as movement and momentum. For her, the horses are a classic point of departure, which in the history of painting – particularly the figurative kind – is used in processes of investigation which test fundamental questions of painting. At the center of these questions stand courses of observation: how the eye takes in information, how the hand translates it into drawing and the transformative expression that operates in the tension between reality and repeated attempts to represent it through the painted image. This is transformation from three to two dimensions, from movement to static drawing, from the natural texture of the smooth or rough surface of the paper, cardboard, or canvas support. The repetition accentuates the image’s elusiveness, how difficult it is to capture, the nature of painting in general and the deceptive illusion upon which it is founded.

Horses are creatures in danger of extinction. Although in the beginning of the nineteenth century, futurists predicted that the greatest problem of the twentieth century would be clearing all the piles of horse manure from the city streets, they did not foresee that the invention of the train, and of the automobile afterwards, would significantly, even drastically, reduce the human race’s need for horses as a means of transportation and shipping. In the history of war up until the Renaissance, heavily armored weapon-bearing riders, on horseback, were the most intimidating weapon on the battlefield. Aristocratic family members have always ridden horses, and this practice is considered a ‘status symbol’. As it turns out, there are no true aristocrats among us, so we have not been honored even with this privilege. A true leader would rule first and foremost from his horse, thus the expression: “to hold the reigns of power”.

Galloping #621 | Oil on canvas 2022 | 60 x 80 cm

" For me, every day of creation brings small surprises and eventually a process of 'liberation’, but it is more accurate to call it : the inner journey to explore my truth. "

Beverly Barkat

Untitled #610 | Charcoal on canvas 2022 | 112 x 230 cm

Barkat’s artistic investigations act in inherent reference to previous representations in art history, and therefore position the starting point of her work in the infinite observation of nature, particularly when staying at the horse farm in Moshav Tel Adashim. The body of works presented before you was created, primarily, during the last year, and it binds the direct gaze at the living horse together with its previous representations in art. The repetitive focus enables the liberation of the charged image and allows the gaze (this time our gaze, as viewers) to concentrate on various experiments with the language and the investigative, mutable painterly temperament. This temperament strives to experiment with near and far expanses, while exposing the mobile dynamic of the draftswoman’s hand, the rhythm of shapes, brushstrokes, and movement in general.

Beverly Barkat, 'Galloping' exhibition - Rothschild Fine Art
Photography: Michael Amar

In her investigations and observations, Beverly Barkat often directs her gaze back in time to ancient times, and in two cases - ‘The Regal Lion Hunt of Ashurbanipal King of Assyria’ and ‘Horses of San Marco’ in Venice – she sees them not just as iconic images, but also as basic allegories for the representation of the horse in art history.

San Marco | #608 | Charcoal and oil paint on newspaper 2022
112 x 74 cm

Assyrian Horses | #598 | Oil on canvas 2022 | 59.5 x 165 cm

Viewing the series of colorful small-scale (oil paint) études Barkat has created may indeed bring to mind the paintings of British Academic painter George Stubbs (1724 – 1806). His horses are depicted again and again in the heart of nature, yet they always express infinite, elegant beauty. The domesticated horses, groomed with great love, awarded their owners with immediate compensation for their efforts: These horses frequently won races and additional competitions, such as jumping and the like, which the English aristocracy adored so much. Stubbs, a masterful craftsman, marked the revered status of these horses in English high culture, while accentuating their importance as a sought-after status symbol. Barkat paints her horses in numerous, interesting positions: galloping, waving their fabulous tails up high, and one even lies on the ground so it can scratch its back.

Shachar | #589 | Oil on canvas 2022
25.4 x 30 cm

Wind 1 | #592 | Oil on canvas 2022
25.4 x 30 cm

Wind 2 | #618 | Charcoal on paper 2022
25.4 x 30 cm

Ayelet | #588 | Oil on canvas 2022
25.4 x 30 cm

An artist who might be somewhat less familiar to Israeli audiences, yet who Beverly Barkat greatly admires, is nineteenth-century painter and sculptor Rosa Bonheur (1822 – 1899), a Frenchwoman of Jewish ancestry who serves as a source of inspiration for Barkat.

The sweeping excellence of Bonheur’s massive painting “The Horse Fair”, on display in New York, left Barkat breathless. One can imagine a number of ways an artist can research a work they admire: They can look at it for a long time to decipher its secrets, or try to copy it, thereby uncovering its mysteries. Barkat has chosen a third, more original way. Naturally, Bonheur prepared quite a few sketches ‘from life’ for the large painting, and some of these drawings are in our hands. But did Rosa also create a sketch, or a smaller monochrome (in French: ‘grisaille’) oil paint sketch in which the artist addresses the composition and games of light and shadow, but does not delve into details of color? This technique served painters for long periods – Rubens and Tiepolo, to name just two. Today, there is great interest precisely in these sketches, which reveal the master artist’s direct, authentic touch on the small canvas or wood panel, without the involvement of assistants or studio apprentices, who took part in the production and enlargement of the finished painting. Since we do not know whether Rosa Bonheur prepared such a sketch, Beverly decided to create it – thereby endeavoring to face the same immense challenge Bonheur confronted successfully. Beverly created the desired ‘sketch’ in the dimensions 90 x 180 cm, allowing herself to use swifter, freer and less precise brushstrokes, as accepted in sketches of this type. This work by Barkat not only underlines Bonheur’s superb painting abilities, but also does historical justice with the relatively forgotten figure of this unique painter.

Rosa | #597 | Oil on canvas 2022 | 90 x 180 cm

Steve-Alia | #620 | Oil on canvas 2022
25.4 x 30 cm

One of the paintings in the present exhibition is a horse named ‘Steve-Alia’ which is living and kicking here, among us, in a Galilean village. This is an especially noble Arabian horse, as demonstrated by its beauty, its upright, attentive ears and even its intelligent glance. This horse seems conscious of its status as a kind of ‘prince’ – the offspring of noble animals brought from Morocco to England 200 years ago, used to enhance the breed of the English horses, which were inferior to the Arabian horses. Barkat painted the foliage behind ‘Steve’ in a less focused manner - intensifying the painting’s sense of depth.

One of the surprises in Beverly Barkat’s exhibition is the horse relief. Barkat, who throughout the years has tried her hand at many different artistic techniques such as ceramics, glassblowing and more, challenges herself this time with relief sculpture. Relief is a type of art form which stands between painting and sculpture: firstly, it usually is not colorful like painting; secondly, it is affixed to the support, the background panel; and thirdly it is not completely three-dimensional like sculpture. The meaning of all this is that creating the illusion of horses protruding outwards and galloping forwards in a relief is a major challenge. And Barkat meets this challenge well. In relief, natural games of light and shadow are an important part of our understanding of the work and the enjoyment we derive from observing it. All of these indeed occur in Barkat’s horse relief.

Untitled #611 Concrete cast relief 2022
| 41.5x51cm

There is no lack of sources of inspiration, as usual. A ‘quadriga’ is a chariot drawn by four horses. As early as the sixth century BC such a quadriga was depicted in a Greek bronze relief, as well as in paintings on Greek vases. Later, the practice continued in Ancient Rome (might we mention the chariot race in the film Ben-Hur…). In the twentieth century the quadriga returned again, somewhat surprisingly: In 1912 the British sculptor Adrian Jones created a giant bronze sculpture depicting four horses leading a chariot, with the Goddess of Peace standing upright inside. The sculpture was placed in an elevated position atop the ‘Wellington Arch’ in ‘Hyde Park Corner’ in London. If previously we had the four golden bronze horses of San Marco in Venice, created in ancient times and which appear relatively static, here we have arrived at the ‘Wellington Arch’.

Untitled #606 | Charcoal on paper 2022 | 41 x 76.5 cm

Untitled #607 | Charcoal on paper 2022 | 57 x 76.5 cm

Beverly also likes to crop objects in a relatively surprising way, such that sometimes the horses’ heads are cut off in the middle, and precisely their eyes are located outside of the picture. Thus, emphasis is placed on their kicking legs, to the point that sometimes if one stands close to the painting, they might feel a bit threatened by the hooves galloping in their direction. Cropping entered European art primarily during the second half of the nineteenth century, due to two sources of influence. The first was Japanese prints, which arrived in Europe and in which, for example, one might see a close-up of a tree with branches cut-off on all sides by the picture frame (Van Gogh copied such a Japanese picture). The second source was the art of photography. People noticed that sometimes just part of an object that passed in the background when the photograph was taken (such as half of a horse) remained in the margins of the picture. Although this cropping was considered ‘haphazard’ because it was unintentional, it captured the eyes of some artists, and it seems that Barkat continues this great tradition.

Wind and Tzur | #599 | Oil on canvas 2022 | 111.5 x 184.5 cm

" The horses are just beautiful! I was attracted to the structure, character, and movement; I found strength and power, softness, delicacy, and the ability to accelerate - all these in one animal.It is fascinating following the rhythm and the music of a galloping horse, the vibration created in the air around him. I wanted to get into the horse's physicality and feel what it felt. "

Beverly Barkat


Untitled #602 | Charcoal on oil painted canvas 2022 | 112 x 230 cm

Untitled #623 Oil on canvas 2022 | 80 x 230 cm

Kochav | #586 | Oil on canvas 2022 | 25.4 x 30.5 cm

Untitled #590 Oil on canvas 2022 | 25.4 x 30 cm

Untitled #587 | Oil on canvas 2022 | 25.4 x 30.5 cm

Untitled #591 Oil on canvas 2022 | 25.4 x 30 cm

Untitled #615 Charcoal on paper 2022 | 45.7 X 61 cm Drawing size 28 x 57 cm

Untitled #617 Charcoal on paper 2022 | 45.7 X 61 cm Drawing size 28 x 57 cm

Untitled #601 Charcoal on paper 2022 | 45.7 X 61 cm Drawing size 28 x 57 cm

Untitled #613 Charcoal on paper 2022 | 45.7 X 61 cm Drawing size 28 x 57 cm

Untitled #612 | Charcoal on paper 2022 | 45.7 X 61 cm Drawing size 28 x 57 cm

Untitled #616 | Charcoal on paper 2022 | 45.7 X 61 cm Drawing size 28 x 57 cm

Untitled #593 | Oil on canvas 2022 | 30.5 x 25.4 cm

Untitled #595 | Oil on canvas 2022 | 40 x 50 cm

Untitled #596 | Oil on canvas 2022 | 50 x 40 cm

Untitled #594 | Oil on canvas 2022 | 30.5 x 25.4 cm

Untitled #603 | Charcoal on paper 2022 |
131 x 81 cm

Untitled #604| Charcoal on paper 2022 |
131 x 81 cm

Untitled #605 Watercolour on paper 2022 |
26 x 18 cm

Untitled #609 | pencil on paper 2022 |
21.5 x 28 cm

Solo exhibition Galloping is presented by Rothschild Fine Art

Artist: Beverly Barkat

Curator: Dr. Doron J. Lurie

Graphic identity and online catalogue: Pigment Creative House
Photography: Michael Amar, Tommy Harpaz

Press and communication: Yael Lotan, Lotan Public Relations

Editing: Nachum Avniel

Translatation : Emily Cooper

Beverly Barkat, 'Galloping' exhibition - Rothschild Fine Art
Photography: Michael Amar