Pop and show
The ongoing group exhibition by six eminent Israeli artists brings forth some brilliant techniques that combine traditional art or ancient symbols and stories with modern digital methods. The artists share details with Divya Kaushik
What you will notice among the riot of colours will be the famous pose of Audrey Hepburn, people who seem to be jumping out of the frame while dancing and racing cyclists. Everything around is bright and cheerful. The ongoing exhibition at Visual Arts Gallery, curated by Motti Abramovitz (director, Bruno Art Group), displays the works of six Israeli artists who present the modern side of Israeli art using innovative techniques and original material. While Yaacov Agam is the pioneer of kinetic movement in art, Calman Shemi developed two unique techniques of paintings: ‘lacquer paintings’ and ‘window paintings’. His ‘lacquer’ and ‘window’ paintings are reminiscent of ancient techniques used to create art in Japan and China centuries ago. Dganit Blechner’s collection consists of icons from movies, Yuval Mahler draws upon a rich supply of wry humour, satire, caricature and comedy to produce his insightful studies of human behaviour. Raphael Abecassis combines Biblical symbols and Sephardic motifs in his work and David Gerstein’s art is about good-hearted objects that convey a certain irony and humour.
Talking about his works, Raphael says, “My paintings describe spiritual dreams. I constantly live in a dream.” He has developed a strikingly unique style of combining Jewish symbols, Sephardic motifs and modern composition in his paintings. He explains, “I have been creating art for the past 35 years constantly. I read and learn a lot of spiritual material from the Bible. Many symbols are from the Bible or I create them out of my imagination after the descriptions I read. Also, many symbols are from the Kabbalah. I am very much inspired by the stories of the Bible and its many interpretations. The spiritual world is full of energy, movement and symbolic actions. I believe that there is an upper world that influence us. I do not use many Sephardic motifs except of my signature, Hamsa (which is a symbol against the evil eye) and fish which is a symbol for blessing. This exhibition will present stories from the Psalms of David.”
When he sketches or paints, he never erases any element. He believes that he is inspired by the God to create something. “I am told what to paint. I never feel that something is wrong. My sketches and drawings go smoothly as if the angels paint instead of me.”
Dganit is among the first artists to combine video art integrated into traditional artwork. A variety of techniques are used in her works: prints on different kinds of media, see-through fabric, complex laser-cuts on wood. The artist explains the technique used for her works, “I make use of portable screens, mostly known as digital frame-8” by size. My husband took the video of the artwork being re-created from scratch on a blank canvas, only this time I was using not photos but the original artwork which was created with my skills of digital creation with computer. Once the video was shot I accelerated it and had the feel of what is used these days as ‘time-lapse’. A process of hours was squeezed into a two-minute video clip. This was one layer of the video. I used some shots I shot in video during my visits to New York City as additional layers and had another layer of subtitles referring to the artwork. I placed the small screen in the art work in such a way that it looked like a window and had all the electricity wiring at the back. The canvas itself had a firm support to hold the screen so the final size of the work was either 80x80x10 cm or 200x50x10 cm. The electric cord was places on the back. This concept made a stationary artwork containing an ever-changing moving image as the video clip repeated itself time after time in a loop.”
Most of her art works on canvas are made with acrylic. In some artworks she combines laser cuts either of the canvas itself or of added material previously cut by laser.
“In 2013 I started the use of see-through fabric, placed in front of a back layer of the image; in a way that once one looks at the work from various angles the artwork looks different,” she adds.
The artworks displayed in the exhibition represent her love for New York City, Marilyn Monroe and other icons from the film industry. She is also inspired by her travelling to create cityscapes that speak about the culture of the place.
Calman’s works are an abstract painting with many colours. The artist developed the idea of the ‘soft painting’ medium in 1977. Beginning with a colour drawing done to scale, Calman layers irregularly shaped pieces of variously textured and colour fabrics.
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