Aesthetic Art VS Conceptual Art
This sculpture began with the invitation of the Maayan Art Gallery staff to create an installation for a field exhibition that will be opened on Shavuot, together with art workshops fair. Each artist who participated in the exhibition received a scarecrow made of a wooden cross and a rectangular wooden plank. The Scarecrow is about six feet tall. The direction was to create a field of unique scarecrows or an army of scarecrows if you like. Each creator ran with his associations and brought his/her agenda on the generic wooden basis. I saw that most of the artists had removed the head plate.
When I received the Scarecrow I saw a crucifix and was immediately thrown into the crucified image of Jesus, it seemed so obvious to me that I could not think of anything else. After six years of reading texts from the New Testament and researching Christian art as part of my master studies in art history, it is very difficult to break away from the iconic images that actually appear in all aspects of Western culture, from the first century AD to contemporary art, visual art, literature, cinema and of course everything in between. This sets the world of Jewish culture apart from the Western world in a distinct way, since it dislikes these images at best and is totally blind to them at worst.
Apart from a few artists from the founding generation of Israeli art, there is almost no reference to Christian icons. Kadishman is identified with his lambs paintings, accompanied by the romantic aura of the shepherd in the Israeli desert, but how many Israelis know the semantics of the lamb as the symbol of innocent sacrifice, the representation of the dead Jesus for the sins of the human race. These lambs have already been interpreted as a symbol of the young IDF soldiers as victims, but even then it is not clear whether the viewer is making the link with the Christian victim who is known to every child in the world.
When this naked cross lay in my small studio, unable to stand up, and too big to lie down, I pondered what it meant to me. This crucifix is the symbol of the perfect sacrifice, the torment of the innocent, the helpless, who does not open its mouth and does not resist, lets them take its loose body, tie it, slay it, scar it, stab it, cut and leave it to bleed on the cross, in the sun, the storm, the heat and the cold, and everything is allowed, everything is kosher, there are those who sponsor and even a blessing. The present victim is the animals, especially those in the industry, who are sacrificed by millions every day for the sins of man: animal food, animal fashion, entertainment, and hunting, old-fashioned lab repeated experiments without any real conclusion. A vast and demonic variety of atrocities, which begins with the arbitrariness of the heart and leads to the blunt heart, and even more, the growth of sadistic traditions.
These thoughts were expressed in sketches and gradually the concept, materials and text crystallized. Anyone who knows the prayer of Unetanne Tokef (a liturgical poem for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur) understands the source of the famous poem Who by Fire by the famous Leonard Cohen, a text that deals with strange deaths. This text is Jewish, but Leonard Cohen thought that the rest of the world would understand the messages within him and touch the human heart. I thought of his poem a little more famous than the original text, and after lots of thought I picked a few words out of it and wrote on a white board the with same red color that I smeared on the cross. On this red cross I hung the head of a lamb, a bird wing, a rooster head, and udders, all sculpted with clay. All in all, a red cross, detached animal parts and a famous text. Really simple symbols and colors used for immediate understanding. So I thought.
My bleeding cross stands in the field of the Maayan Art Gallery between other and different scarecrows, where messages of love, hearts and other things that are less obvious. I saw people passing among the statues and I did not know what they understood. To my surprise many people do not recognize the song lyrics; some do not know Leonard Cohen. They do not recognize the cross and do not understand its meaning. There were no special responses to the photo I posted on the web. I hoped there would be a discussion on the subject. The sculpture presents a very specific idea, sitting on a deep rage and a sense of helplessness in the face of the horrors that happen every day to the most innocent, helpless living creatures.
I also published my crucifix picture in the group Art of The Animals of artists from all over the world on Facebook. They probably identified the cross as well as the animals but the reactions were agitated and blunt. Surprisingly, they thought that these were parts of real animals that I had hung on a cross. People were shocked and repeated that it was not art, that it was disgusting and weird. From time to time I responded that the animal parts were made of clay and that it was simply a representation of the animal victim in industry and in man's hands. The storm lasted for a day, with hostile resistance that really surprised me. Instead of dealing with the message, people concentrated on hating and resisting the technique. It was very strange to me. It ended with the deletion of the post, probably by the page’s administrators.
My long-standing experience is really with very aesthetic works that deal with cute subjects, including illustrations of books with lots of humor, portraits of people at their best, animals and children, and a little fashion. Responses come only from those who enjoy the items. I always thought that was what made me less than an artist, since ordered portraits are not considered by art institutions in Israel and aesthetic works are ultimately decoration. On the other hand, the galleries in Israel are full of provocative works, which have long abandoned aesthetics and the concept is almost the exclusive face of art.
In the end, this is the first time I create a work that comes from a defined and burning emotion, based on horrors and images that are the exact opposite of aesthetics and they haunt me and agonize me. I do not know what reactions other artists get, but maybe that's what makes me a real artist at last? Such a real exposure of difficult emotion and persistent frustration and desperation of human nature, they are the materials I used and they are the ones that draw fire. Bottom line, is today's art aesthetics or concept?
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