The Female Body Reconstructed
Beatrice von Bormann

The female body is key to the work of Ruthi Helbitz Cohen. It “performs” on the canvas in different shapes and guises: dressed or undressed, in the role of a clown, witch, child, or femme fatale; as a mythological goddess or historical figure; hanging from the ceiling, floating, lying down; fragmented in space, alone or in the company of other complementary figures. The artist takes the body apart and reassembles it, like a mechanic might do with a car or an engine, or a scientist when dissecting and studying the body of an animal. It is as if she is searching for the inner essence of these women by pulling their bodies apart, by painting heads, limbs or organs separately and then putting them back together like a mismatched puzzle, in which the individual pieces don’t quite fit. A sense of uneasiness arises at the sight of a skull-like head on top of a semi-transparent torso, of a body dissolving into a dark cloak, or of arms taking the place of legs, reaching up towards the torso.

Eros and Thanatos, love and death unite within a single, inseparable figure. Helbitz Cohen says that: “I want to make a small but significant change in viewers’ observations and understandings. Get them interested, get close and turn their head around. I want to make them doubt what they hold as true, real, acceptable.  I want my paintings to be inoperable, I want the spectator to object. I would like the painting to generate an unpleasant but at the same time desirable thought process that will make the viewers want to possess this distortion.”

To behold Helbitz Cohen’s work is to behold a world rich in contradictions, strong and subtle emotions, and intricate thoughts seen through a distorting mirror. Beyond the horror, disgust and pain lies a world of delicate beauty.

In addition to the numerous museum exhibits in Israel, she was invited to show her work in Germany, Netherlands, France, Denmark, Greece, China, and the USA. Alongside the artistic work in her studio, Ruthi teaches art in both the Beit Berl Arts College and the Oranim College, Program of Multidisciplinary Studies in Humanities and the Arts (M.Ed.).

  • 2006
    New Works, Julie M. Gallery, Tel Aviv
    Mind the Gap, Umtrieb Gallery, Kiel, Germany
  • 2007
    Distortion, Umtrieb Gallery, Kiel, Germany
  • 2008
    Mind the Gap, Evi Gougenheim Gallery, Paris
  • 2009
    Damsel’s House, Helena Rubinstein Pavilion for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv
    Museum of Art (curator: Varda Steinlauf)
    Free but Securely Held, Oranim College Art Gallery (curator: Tali Cohen Garbuz), Tivon; Julie M. Gallery, Tel Aviv
  • 2010
    Sisyphus, Polylog, Mittelmeerbiennale, Köln, Germany
  • 2011
    On the Edge (with Yehoshua Sobol), Nachum Gutman Museum, Tel Aviv (curator: Monica Lavi)
  • 2012
    The Spider’s Strategy, Beelden aan Zee Museum, The Hague (curator: Ronit Eden)
  • 2013
    Frameless, Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou (curator: Yaniv Shapira)
  • 2014
    Four Matriarchs and a Remainder, Gordon Gallery, Tel Aviv;
    Helga Hofman Gallerie, Alphen aan de Rijn, The Netherlands
  • 2015
    Whispers, Gordon Gallery, Tel Aviv
    Curtain of Tears, Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art (curator: Aya Lurie)
  • 2017
    Set, Haifa Museum of Art (curator: Svetlana Reingold)
    Inspire Project, A Deed Without a Name, Macedonia Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki (curator: Thouli Misirloglou)
    Daphne, the Israel Culture Institute, Budapest
  • 2018
    Potsdam, Amsterdam, Tel Aviv (with Joshua Rosenman), Kunsthaus Potsdam (curators: Hubertus von der Golz and Angelika Euchner)
    Passive-Aggressive: From Daphne to Judith, Whiteconcepts Gallery, Berlin Poem/Po-Eima
    A Hair at the Crime Scene (with Yehoshua Sobol), The Open University Gallery, Raanana (curator: Carmit Blumenson)
  • 2019
    Beloved, The Open Museum, Tefen Industrial Park (curator: Ruthi Ofek)
  • 2020
    The Sky Fell On Me, Umm El Fachem Museum
  • (curator: Yael Guilat)
  • 2021
    Bombs Will Fly over the Naked King, and a Heavy 2022 Heart will plummet,
    Hamidrsaha Gallery – Hayarkon 19, Tel Aviv (curator Avi Lubin)
  • 2022
    And Then the Silence, Contemporary Art Center Ramla, Curator: Dr. Smadar Sheffi
  • 2023
    Mother, I shall weave a chain of pearls for thy neck with my tears of sorrow, Schechter Gallery, Tel Aviv
    , curator: Bar Yerushalmi
    Art In The Vide, Museum de Fundatie, The Netherlands, Curator: Beatrice von Bormann
    The Book Of Ruth, Moving Gallery Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • 2024
    Dat Bolwerck, Art and Thought, foundation for Art and Philosophy, Zutphen, The Netherlands,
  • 2024
    Drawing the waves, Ruthi Helbitz Cohen & Diana Blok, Ramat Gan Museum