Behind All This Some Great Happiness Is Hiding / Gabriele Förster


Following the tracks of his 2009 exhibition titled “Three Oaks”, Shai Saul continues his study of the forces that make our world, paying particular attention to the process of change and the substitution of one order by another, often slight and erroneously appearing to be surreal.


In his work Saul appears to investigate the dynamics of change and manner at which we interpret and construe an understanding of reality as it unfolds in front of us. Changes in society, demography, law, governance, environment, scenery and urban development, are often wrapped with an illusion and laden with the promise of a better future, yet, as they unfold, a Trojan horse appears, bearing an outcome far remote from the perceived intent at the time of their establishment.


Saul is going through the evidence, studying the fingerprints left in the field, hoping not to find ‘an answer’ nor to reconcile, but rather to find even the slightest foothold, a kernel from which a comprehensive perception of the world may develop, and, as a derivative, the evolvement of his own understanding of his place thereto.


In the series “Terminal” the viewer can see landscape which is completely deformed by violent interventions, nevertheless he is fascinated by the aesthetic of the structures. The pictures of the series “Haste” present rooms of destroyed, abandoned buildings. The remains tell about the life of their former inhabitants in a haunting language, they witness hasty departure and escape.


Shai Saul’s approach to his art is philosophical, offering the viewer an abundance of further thoughts and feelings. The work’s aesthetic is as fascinating as the message underlying it.


“Behind All This Some Great Happiness Is Hiding“ – Saul titles his exhibition with this line from a poem by Yehuda Amichai. He is leaving us to ponder what exactly is “All This” and whether this promise of “Great Happiness” is a cynical make belief, or a moment of tender reconciliation. 


In his book titled “If This Is A Man” (Italian: Se questo è un uomo), Primo Levy  explains the purpose of recording his experiences as a prisoner in Auschwitz: among others – to record what happened so that successive generations may be able to ponder the significance of the events that he had lived through. Saul, in his own way, appears to have taken upon himself to follow Levy’s guidance. He keeps pondering.


Berlin, 2011