Written By Neta Dor Lemelshtrich
“The art print must be for us a way of life, worthy of being taught at every school, not just at art schools… Prints are works of art in every sense of the word and not by- products… The print is a work of art in its own right.”
(Uzi Agassi, artist and art critic, “Art Print and Cultural Value,” Ha’aretz daily newspaper, 15 February 1995).
I have chosen to begin the introduction to my catalogue and exhibition with a quote from Uzi Agassi who, in a few succinct sentences, encapsulates the very essence and the rightful place of the art print. My current exhibition spans several series of prints – etchings from 1994-2000 alongside series of computer-generated drawings from 2000-2002.
For me, etching is a unique mode of expression, at once rich, complex and intriguing, closely linked to the history of art. It is one of the techniques of artistic print – in fact, the earliest one – whereby fine nuances of line and hue may be achieved. The work process is expert and exact, and the investment in each work is tremendous.
The etching technique dates back to the 15th century. Dutch painters of the 17th century, the best known among them being Rembrandt, elevated the technique to the level of a true art form. It has continued to evolve ever since, becoming ever more lavish and intricate.
In its most basic sense, etching refers to a design drawn on a metal plate (copper, zinc, etc.); the design is either bitten into the plate by means of acid or cut into it by an engraving tool.
An artist engaging in etching must be profoundly familiar with the various materials, including acids and other chemical substances. He must be well versed in the secrets of the many and complex ‘tools of the trade’ in order to transfer images and forms from one surface (the metal plate) onto another (the paper), and obtain the desired result. Throughout the years, the art print has developed greatly, and today it encompasses a wide variety of methods and procedures. Artists who work in this medium often combine a number of processes and diverse techniques in a single work of art.
My computer-generated drawings (produced as numbered series of computer prints) were created over the past two years, representing the transformation that has occurred in my work since the year 2000 in terms of technique and style alike. In the course of time, a development in my work and in my thought processes as an artist occurred naturally. This change allowed me to touch upon new realms and express myself in new manners and directions, wherefrom the essence of my creative work derives.
Art is a language that articulates one’s culture. Since we are living in a period of great technological advances, art must necessarily react to the changes and adapt itself accordingly.
Digital technology and the technological culture have led to the crystallization of a new aesthetic, and the formation of a vocabulary of images interconnected at various levels to
the history of art. Placement of the image in a digital work is performed differently than before, and the processing of contents and their incorporation with art historical references and traditions gives rise to a new language to which the viewer needs to accustom himself.
We live in difficult times. Enemies, in the widest sense of the word, threaten our lives and the lives of our children, our cultural essence and the country’s very existence. All these factors inevitably affect the artist, physically as well as spiritually and mentally.
My own way of coping with these feelings under the existing circumstances is via computer works. Thus I created the Metamorphoses series which explores images extracted from my immediate environment. By deconstructing the images, scattering and reconstructing them anew, differently, I wish to convey to the viewer my feelings about what transpires around me. Thus, a simple, mundane image of a summer sunshade is filtered through prisms of time, seasons, place, and space, gradually dissolving until it virtually evaporates; at the end of the process it transforms into a symbol of chaos. For me, the sunshade that slowly transforms into something else, attests that things never disappear, but merely change form constantly; and in this I perceive a ray of light, a source of hope…
Comprising a drawing of the face of a special person I knew, the work Friend gradually transforms into a memory image. The image becomes metaphorically “transparent,” in order to cut it off from the time and place, and from itself. It is severed from its initial context and is “recycled” into new states and reincarnations that blur its original identity, allowing it to partake in a different reality. The image is no longer unequivocal. It conveys a sense of ambiguity, detachment and insubstantiality but, at the same time, it continues to exist, albeit in a different form.
Through digital practice I can continue to transform the images on which the series are based; to expand and augment, reduce and alter contents, to render them more complex or extract their primary meaning almost entirely, to create new forms, and construct the space differently.
Movement and flux, in the widest sense, continue to intrigue me as in the past: the constant transformation of objects, their cyclical nature, and the contrasts between them, whether it is the fabric fluttering over a dancer’s body in the work Flowing Dance, the movement of clouds, a bird in flight, a flowing stream, or a cultivated field changing with the seasons of the year and times of day. All these continue to stimulate me and to provide an inexhaustible source of engaging images, that come to symbolize life itself – what happens to us as human beings and what happens to the Nature surrounding us. I continually delve into the same images explored in my etchings, albeit now they are expressed in a different way via the digital medium. The computer-generated drawing is not meant to replace the classical techniques in my oeuvre. I continue to create with all the various means at my disposal that allow me to express myself in the best possible manner.
Around us, the world is rushing forward at an unrelenting pace, toward new and daring achievements – and this is good, for one must not stagnate. Progress never stops, whether we want it to or not. Nonetheless, from time to time, it is worthwhile to pause for a moment, look around, and observe the seemingly trivial things around us that are noteworthy; to remind ourselves that some things never change, for change is their very essence. They continue to flow in their own routes and rhythm, regardless of what transpires around them. It is worthwhile to halt the frenzied race, if only for an instant, to seek, contemplate, and look deep inside…