Only then, does the good familial feeling that Balaklav conveys in his animal paintings become clear. And only then, one discerns the profound connection to a series of landscapes painted at the same period as those of the goats and the other farm animals: in his new landscapes, the artist’s look is directed permanently outwards, from his apartment’s interior and through grids or window frames (even through a balcony’s iron grids). Once again, the fence is broken. The interior is homely, intimate, warm: the laundry is hanging out to dry, the son’s bicycle (the same son who caused Balaklav to arrive at Rosh Zurim and the goat pen), that is also a distant reminder of the painter’s childhood (Balaklav in 2001: ‘My dad had one bicycle […] my brother and I took turns riding it […] nowadays I also paint a boy on a bicycle. This is Yossi, my son, and this is me.’) – the sense of security of home and family is conveyed. Here, distant hills or the front of a nearby building do not comprise a contrast to the interior: since external and interior balance each other in amicable light games – in morning or night, in the afternoon, on a rainy day or on a sunny one – interior and external are in harmony.
The shadows cast by the balcony’s iron grids impress upon our consciousness that the ‘fence’ is no longer a barrier, but serves as an invitation to view the world through it. True, Balaklav will almost always stay at home, among his family – human beings and animals – but now he can effect a peaceful and even idyllic alliance between this protected space and the neighboring world. Therefore, our assumption is that the goat paintings of Leonid Balaklav are those of home and family, and that they constitute another sheltered space in which the painter feels at ease. Like the black kid, he looks innocently outwards in order to define another space. And accordingly, in our consciousness there emerges an understanding that Balaklav’s plank paintings are another confirmation of the familial element in the process of freeing himself from the fence’s restrictions: since each and every pole is a portrait of the artist’s mother and father, his sister and brother, or a portrait of children and mothers with their babies, women, etc. All these constitute an enhanced family, that also includes landscapes: because all these plank paintings are characterized by light blue and yellow, reflecting the sky and light that glows from a shirt, a face, etc. A Hassidic (or a ‘Gothic’?) spirituality characterizes these narrow and tall figures, that all respond to El Greco’s Catholicism, but depict a Jewish prayer directed towards heaven.
And then, we return to the goat ‘family’, and relate it to the Jewish goat recalled from Chagall’s paintings (as of 1911). It seems that Chagall’s goat, from the Russian-Jewish town, that floats in the sky or stands on the ground, has turned in Balaklav’s paintings into a bridge that connects his childhood in the Moldavian exile, in the city of Belzi and its surrounding villages, with his new life here, in Israel. ‘Like a dacha’, he refers to his goats, confirming the post-Russian birth of the artist in Israel. And thus, as I return to Chagall’s fence painting, the one Balaklav showed me in his studio – to the painting Above the City, 1914 (the artist and his sweetheart hover over Vitebsk and its long wooden fences) – my eye captures the green goat grazing in one of the yards. I also do not overlook the ink drawing of a goat and a baby carriage drawn by Chagall in 1916, and this enhances the affinity between Balaklav’s goats and the familial landscapes, among them the son’s bicycle. And all these – there, in the artist’s studio in Gilo – suddenly relate to each other in an act of love that encompasses mankind and the world.
In his paintings of the 1990s, Balaklav employed light as a means of body perishment and freeing the soul (‘with this light I erase things’ he then said). At that time, his anorectic plank paintings, too, carried portraits that looked like transparent, nearly disappearing, ghosts. In his present paintings, on canvases, planks, and cardboards – the light is not erasing things: it builds, it confirms, and it says a ‘yes’ of pious thanksgiving.
 From an interview made by Galia Bar Or, in Leonid Balaklav: Face of the Light, Museum of Art, Ein Harod, 2001, p. 33
 Gideon Ofrat, “The Language of the Perishing Body” Leonid Balaklav: Face of the Light, Museum of Art, Ein Harod, 2001, p. 33
 Ibid, p. 15
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