For nearly forty years, Yisrael K. Feldsott’s work has defied easy categorization and has invoked controversial responses from his audience. This exhibit showcases, Peter Selz’s, former curator of the MoMa New York, personal selections of Feldsott’s visceral and prolific body of work.
After meeting Feldsott at the Paul Mahder Gallery in 2011, Selz called Feldsott’s work, “Paintings that would change your life.” The two began to collaborate on a retrospective show that spans four decades of work and highlights Feldsott’s incredible artistic journey. Feldsott’s work was born from a life on the fringes of our culture— from interacting with drug addicts, beat poets and Rock musicians to becoming an indigenous advocate; working with tribal leaders in South America and Mexico.
In his twenties, Feldsott was one of the first artists to link the modern art world with the grittiness of graffiti—art that was deemed “without merit” in the early seventies. Sandra Roos, a noted art historian in the Bay Area, said after the movement, “Feldsott was like the Matisse of the (then emerging) punk art scene.” Early in his career, Feldsott had the distinction of being the youngest artist to ever display his works at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and seemed destined for stardom. But Feldsott quickly became disillusioned with the hyper-political art scene and issues of censorship and commercialism drove Feldsott to stop showing his work publicly for two decades.
Robert Morgan, the Arcale Award winning art critic, called Feldsott, “A born rebel, a pariah in search of his own standards. On another level, his point of view as an artist is not outside the parameters of recognized criteria that connoisseurs would choose to call significant. His paintings are less about art as a detached postmodern idea than about the artist’s uncanny mediumistic ability to simply allow works of art to evolve.”
Cries, Chants, Shouts and Whispers demonstrates a form of modern art that is less about deciphering insider artist jargon and more about eliciting primal reactions in the viewer. In his essay, Morgan continues on to say, “As a painter/healer, Feldsott stands at the threshold of what is essential, what it means to be human. Therefore, he attempts to endow his paintings with mythic eloquence – much like the early Pollock.”
In 2002, after more than two decades of refusing to show his work publicly, Feldsott consented to an exhibition at the Museo Guayasamín in Quito, Ecuador. This show marked his subsequent return to the art scene he had abandoned. Over the last decade Feldsott has had a number of shows in San Francisco, Santa Fe and Los Angeles, but Cries, Chants, Shouts and Whispers: Songs of the Forgotten will be the first of Feldsott’s exhibits to travel to multiple cities. The show begins its journey in San Francisco at the Meridian Gallery before traveling on to New York City, a home coming for famed curator, Peter Selz and then continuing on to Art Miami.