Yishai Jusidman, a Mexican artist of Jewish heritage currently working in Los Angeles, explores the history of paint and painting and presents them through a contemporary lens.

Yishai Jusidman’s Prussian Blue is a series of paintings rendered almost exclusively in one of the earliest artificially developed pigments used by European painters—Prussian Blue. The chemical compound that makes up this pigment happens to be related to the Prussic acid in Zyklon B, the poisonous product deployed at some of the Nazi concentration and extermination camps. By a strange turn, traces of the pigment remain to this day in the walls of the gas chambers. Such stains are quiet, disturbing, and palpable reminders which Jusidman’s paintings re-engage with a profound effect.

This exhibition is organized by Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC) in Mexico City, and is making its United States debut at YBCA.

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There are colors whose historical implications overpower their formal and optical potential. One of them is Prussian blue.

Discovered in 1704 in Berlin, it soon became the emblematic tint of the Prussian army and one of the earliest artificial pigments used by European painters. The color is also linked to the extermination of European Jewry in World War II: the pesticide employed by the Nazis in the gas chambers, Zyklon B, left traces on some of the walls when its lethal compound chemically mutated into Prussian blue residues.

Tensions between color and history, perception and materiality, picture and painting, are the subject of the series that Yishai Jusidman devotes to an extremely thorny problem: How may we, how should we visualize the Holocaust? Painting allows the artist to plunge into the labyrinth of memory while the imagery submitted to his brush recaptures both excruciating presences and silences.

For three decades Jusidman has engaged the possibilities of painting through a variety of resourceful explorations, for instance of multiple systems of perspective (The Astronomer [1987–90]), of the intricacies of expression (en-treat-ment [1998]), and of pollinations between media and art (The Economist Shuffle [2006–9]). Prussian Blue (2010–16) is perhaps his most complex distillation of the problematic of the painted image, challenging us, moreover, to face head-on the historic event before which politics and ethics today draw their shared boundaries. Thus in our present troubled times Prussian Blue prompts us to look steadily or risk the consequences of forgetting.

— Cuauhtémoc Medina

Yishai Jusidman

Yishai Jusidman’s (b. Mexico City, 1963) noteworthy solo exhibitions include Prussian Blue, Americas Society, New York (2013) and MUAC, Mexico City (2016–17); Paintworks, Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City (2009); The Economist Shuffle, Yvon Lambert Gallery, New York (2007); and mutatis mutandis/Working Painters, which traveled to SMAK, Ghent, Belgium; MEIAC, Badajoz, Spain; and MARCO, Monterrey, Mexico (2002–3). His paintings have been featured in important international group exhibitions, such as the 2014 SITE Santa Fe Biennial; the 2001 Venice Biennale; Ultrabaroque: Aspects of Post-Latin American Art, which traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and the Miami Art Museum (2000–2003); and ARS 01, KIASMA, Helsinki, Finland (2001). Jusidman’s work is often included in panoramic exhibitions of Mexican contemporary art, as in The Era of Discrepancy, Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City (2007); Echo—Contemporary Art from Mexico, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (2003); and Soleils du Mexique, Petit Palais, Paris (2000). Jusidman lives and works in Los Angeles.

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is grateful to the City of San Francisco for its ongoing support.

YBCA Exhibitions are made possible in part by: The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Panta Rhea Foundation, American Council of Learned Societies Public Fellows Program, Meridee Moore and Kevin King, and United Airlines.

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YBCA Programs are made possible, in part, by: The James Irvine Foundation.

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Additional Funding for YBCA Programs: National Endowment for the Arts, Abundance Foundation, Grosvenor, and members of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is grateful to the City of San Francisco for its ongoing support.

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Yishai Jusidman: Prussian Blue is organized by the Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo, MUAC. UNAM, México.

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Lead Image: Yishai Jusidman, Rag #9 from the series Prussian Blue, 2013–15. Oil and acrylic on cotton mounted on wood. Courtesy the artist.