Behind Oracles

 

 

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The work "Oracle" consists of two large-scale sculptures that I made especially for the exhibition "The Seer and The See", exhibited at the Azrieli Gallery in Jerusalem, and curated by Tal Schwartz and Roy Ravitzky. The exhibition dealt with revelations of prophecy in Israeli art, and with Israeli art that deals with prophecy and the constant tension that exists between the prophet and the king, or between the prophet and the royal establishment. The exhibition was presented at the Azrieli Gallery on HaNeviim (The Prophets) Street in Jerusalem and related to the history of the region, and the city in general.

Since I have been engaged in matters of prophecy for many years, I have chosen to present two sculptures that address both Hebrew prophecy and its local contexts, as well as the broader context of prophecy and communication with "superior beings" among other cultures. The oracle is the "speaker" (the word oracle comes from the Latin word orare, to speak): it is he/she who speaks with the gods, with the king and with the people, and it is he/she who mediates between them. The most famous oracles are those known from ancient Greece (for example, the Oracle of Delphi), but the Biblical literature is also full of prophets wandering around the city talking to anyone willing to listen (and sometimes to those who do not).

I made the sculptures from a combination of self-work and ready-made. These garden-sculptures, shaped like young women, sculpted in a classic style, were originally intended for the decoration of gardens. The relations between the cheap, instant and available object, and what is considered to be "high" or "fine" art, attracts me and engages me throughout my whole career as an artist. I often work on ready-made objects such as dolls, kids' toys and decorative sculptures, and I enjoy making them something else and loading them with other, more serious, meanings. For these specific sculptures, which I purchased directly from the one who imports them from China (a fact that adds another interesting touch to the work), I assembled masks that I made from plaster, which turned them into wild figures with a shamanic presence. I colored everything together uniformly, occasionally adding "tattoos" painted on the body parts of the characters.

The masks, as mentioned, I sculpted with clay and casted in plaster. One of them was inspired by an Amazonian mask that I purchased in Brazil. The second mask I have shaped as a human face with an owl-like appearance. In many cultures, the owl is associated with wisdom and vision (physical and metaphorical), and is often used as a companion to the gods and goddesses identified with these traits. As a nature and animal lover, the nightly and mysterious nature of the owl has always attracted me (and probably also attracted my late grandmother, who throughout her adult life has collected owl statues from every place she visited, amassing a pretty impressive collection).

oracles 1s.jpg

Amazonian mask, purchased in Brazil

800px-Burney_Relief_Babylon_-1800-1750.j

The Burney Relief from Babylon

(1800-1750 BC)

The finished sculptures were connected to pedestals that were made of wood and coated by plaster, which I painted in a similar way to the sculptures themselves. On the pedestals, I wrote texts that I took from a book I wrote several years ago, which in part describes some dreams I had, that were of a visionary nature. Within the texts, there are various motifs that I drew while re-reading those materials. The serpent, the woman who gives birth to an adult (a kind of self-portrait), the temple, etc., are all images that occupy my thought and work, and carry archetypal significance for me. The texts written on the pedestals are difficult to read continuously, but the general mindset and idea are quite clear.

The artist, for me, shares many qualities with the Prophet. While I do not hold any conversations with external entities (like gods), and do not claim to have any mystical communication powers or abilities, the internal investigation, the inner dialogue and the intuitions (that are becoming more and more refined as an artist creates his own art) give him, in my opinion, a special vision and discernment abilities that go beyond normal.