Mai Daas: In Betweeen

Mai Daas: In Betweeen

Curator: Carmit Blumensohn

"Beauty has no other origin other than a wound"

—Jean Genet

Mai Daas' works attest to a powerful, opinionated womanhood, the model of a woman who knows what she wants and acts to obtain it. They exude the strengths of a woman who copes with crises and confronts them by looking them in the eye and displaying courage and audacity. She strives for visual beauty and packages it in multiple contents, messages, and meanings while dealing with the personal and feminine identity and the tension that resides between them.

These are lovely, alluring works that demonstrate total command of figurative Realistic painting. After your first glance, it dawns on you that there is lots of depth below the surface. The affective contents of the works throb and communicate, delicately but powerfully, the anxiety and malaise that are embedded in them.

To snare viewers who are moved by mimesis and creation of optical illusions, artists need a great deal of skill in painting technique and virtuoso ability to mimic colors and textures. In her works, Daas embeds deep emotions that exude painfully personal and intimate feeling. Her works engage in physical, mental, and female scars—scars of identity and of belonging.

She expresses the ambiguity of the society that she inhabits: a society that encourages women to be independent, to acquire schooling, and to head into the job market, but also one that suspects women who stray from the expected path of modesty of being light-minded and crimps their personal freedom. Daas’ life as a Palestinian Arab woman in Israel is not simple. Yes, she carries a blue Israeli ID card but accompanies it with a sense of foreignness and non-belonging in the state where she was born.

The strength imbued in these works attests to a coping process that’s never finished: a daily struggle with the conventions of a conservative society in contrast to the self-image of strength and pride that constitutes the artist's inner truth. With her individualistic personality, Daas is loath to let those conventions define her. She is true to her personal and artistic way and adheres to it to the end and beyond.