by David Cohen

In contrast to the stark clarity of Rosler’s photomontages, with their take-no-hostages political posturing, Eyal Danieli plunges into the intractable Arab-Israeli conflict with painterly images that bask in fuzz. He is a master of mushy half-tones of meaning and emotion.

Danieli’s subtle, muted palette – suspended at a tipping point between delicacy and despair – recalls avatars of sombre quietude from Giorgio Morandi through Philip Guston to Luc Tuymans. And with each of these Danieli shares something more than a mere tendency to pastels.

Like Tuymans, he taps an unsettling sense of the impossibility of history painting in a mediated age. Like Guston, he seeks subtlety in crudeness, extracting painterly possibilities from primitive though not quite caricatural schemata. In Danieli’s case, these are renderings of helicopters; hand-made signs; and in paintings of Arab women, exoticized, decorative signifiers of the unknowable “other”.

As for Danieli/Morandi, there is shared obstinacy and doggedness, for sure, though where the Italian master sought refuge from the bombast of fascism, it could be argued, in insistently commonplace motifs, Danieli, on the contrary, revels in the glamor and subversiveness of images of military action and ethnic difference.

You sense his brush quivering with almost boyish excitement in this depiction of a menacing helicopter gunship – however much you also sense anti-war protest at work (borne out, if you know him, by the artist's political sympathies). Like Leon Golub and Nancy Spero, there is an ambivalence between disdain and empathy thanks to a painterly involvement with the motif. Danieli seems to be an artist confronting the atavism of fateful images manifest in his own, as well as the collective psyche.