Tami Bahat’s vision transcends time and space. When I met her for the first time some years ago, I was fully convinced that she was some sort of ethereal spirit that had been placed in my path as a reality check to reevaluate our contemporary upheaval through renaissance eyes. Not only does she have a gentle, forthcoming way of interacting with everyone, she is also a most insightful and creative artist whose work is both abstract and natural, both modern and history-laden, all wrapped up into each individual image, delightful to contemplate and appreciate. Incredible! As Will Geer once said, “it needs to come from the heart,” and Tami Bahat’s creative inventiveness is certainly full of heart and intellect as well.
Let me take you on a small preview of her current solo exhibition, “Revisiting Humanity: Secrets and Lifetimes,” shown at the Building Bridges Art Exchange gallery at Bergamot Station Art Center in Santa Monica, only through February 17, with a special closing reception from 6 to 9 that evening. Don’t miss this exhibit! There is no substitute for seeing the actual work and its gallery presentation, the superb prints as presented by Tami in gorgeous frames.
Marisa Caichiolo has curated Tami’s work into outstanding settings, generously presented, on a level of quality that art museums would be proud of. The subdued lighting is perfect for the mysterious work that looks as if it might have been created in a different time, yet, on closer examination, is so modern. We are confronted with a variety of figures that seem to serve in important roles in their own space and time, both of which remain mainly undefined, for the viewer to puzzle over. The figures are shown in a very theatrical manner against dark backgrounds, lit interestingly to give a pleasant, yet somewhat Kafkaesque effect; at the same time we feel an urge to place them somewhere in time, perhaps some centuries ago. And yet we can’t quite pinpoint where they belong or what they might be feeling, as their expressions are fairly neutral. This is where the viewers are enticed to do their part and to project themselves into what appears like a stylized historical tableau with contemporary psychology thrown in to startle us a bit. Some of the figures are shown together with other creatures or in the process of engaging in activities, with a clear mantle of other centuries and an unseen director (a puppet master, or possibly the Establishment) hovering over the whole enterprise. The shadows know … there can be danger in some of what’s in you or around you, or it can be lovable, or anything in between. There is an astonishing obliviousness that we observe. We want to caution the characters … watch out – some of the creatures present may not be as complacent as the momentary stillness might imply! Look at the images below and judge for yourself. Better yet, go see the exhibit and immerse yourself in Tami’s world of art.
Other series that Tami previously created also show her skills in translating emotions into images. Shades of Man Ray, Ralph Eugene Meatyard and William Mortensen, but with a very unique contemporary twist: the series “Reflection,” “Subsurface,” and “Wildlife,” exhibiting varying levels of abstraction and exquisite compositional arrangements, challenge the viewer to question form and purpose of life itself – implicit in her images displaying ambiguous beauty and tension. One example from each of these three other series is shown below. I invite you to view more of Tami’s work on her website.
We expect many more great projects from Tami Bahat in the future!
High and Low
Image No. 1 above: © Gerhard Clausing, Nos. 2-13: © Tami Bahat