Work by Hannalore Baron is as direct and easily understood as a flesh wound. A survivor of the Holocaust whose life has been a series of injustices, torments and nervous breakdowns, Baron has channeled terrible experiences into a distressingly powerful body of anti-war art.
Now 60, Baron claims to work solely for her own satisfaction, shows her work with great reluctance and describes it as “a form of document attesting to events I cannot forget.” Precisely what she experienced is recounted in text posted throughout the exhibition and it’s as horrible as anything you could imagine. One can only hope that art has proven to be a source of solace to this beleaguered woman.
Collages and assemblages made of wood, string, fabric and paper, Baron’s memento mori is, like work by Joseph Cornell, profoundly delicate as a butterfly wing. But, unlike Cornell, Baron speaks in a voice of bewilderment and fear of evil. She describes some of her works as having the quality of “a nailed-up room or boarded-up wall” and indeed, civilization itself is often cast here as a misused, broken and abandoned toy. The work is scarred and defaced with jagged lines that simultaneously evoke a crown of thorns and a barbed wire fence.
Baron selects and gathers her scavenged materials with care and her visual vocabulary is equally precise. White symbolizes resolved grief while black represents wounds that continue to fester. Torn bits of flag allude to her abhorance for nationalism. She says that birds represent “the small and defenseless,” and flowers stand for “hope, and are included in memory of the mutilated.” One needn’t read the explanatory text to grasp the meaning of this work. These charred boxes, fashioned of shabby bits of wood bound together with wire and dirty twine, look exactly like a broken heart. (Jack Rutberg, 357 N. La Brea Ave., to April 19.)