Green Line with Green Eyes
In the mid-1980s, the Green Line (which marks the pre-1967 borders of the State of Israel) became a dominant component of David Reeb’s paintings. His representation of this charged political frontier makes a statement about the permanent status the occupation acquired in Israeli consciousness. Reeb's Green Line was superimposed upon tranquil civilian scenes (people sunbathing or exercising on the beach); it accompanied violent occurrences (involving the police and combat helicopters); it also penetrated into the artist’s studio paintings and became a decorative motif in his abstract works.
In this painting, the Green Line passes between a tranquil and hedonistic world, represented by the hotels along the Tel Aviv beach, and a world suffused with fear and violence, represented by the masked Arab youth and the two (human or animal) figures standing behind him. The Green Line both unites and separates the two decorative patterns in the painting: the x pattern that appears against a pale blue sky, and the eyes blazing against an intensely colored red ground.
The hotels and the Arab youth are copied in a similar manner from photographs, and are depicted in black and white. They create a uniform, non-hierarchical visual continuum, analogous to random channel surfing on TV or to flipping through newspapers that depict harsh scenes from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and neutral scenes from everyday life alongside each other.
The emphasis on eyes as a recurring motif in this and other paintings by Reeb is intended to rehabilitate a communal, collective form of vision. As the art critic Itamar Levy remarked, “Reeb’s Intifada paintings are a fulcrum upon which he sets up a mighty lever, which perhaps does not aspire to move the world from its place, but does aspire to open our eyes to see anew what we have ceased seeing” (Itamar Levy, David Reeb: Paintings 1982–1994, exhibition cat., Tel Aviv Museum of Art, 1994).