Working within the tradition of sculpture and simultaneously questioning its very essence, Reuven Israel (*1978, Jerusalem; lives and works in New York) is a master of opposite solutions. His work often starts from disparate positions and ideas that he links together to reach an endpoint which conveys a deep sense of visual and conceptual harmony, as if an equilibrium could only be reached through tension. Associating the algid aesthetics of minimal art and Finish Fetish with the playful look of children’s toys, appropriating elements of modern architecture with the visual vocabulary of ancient sites of worship, adopting the legacy of monumental sculpture in order to transform it into modifiable pieces, Israel’s objects represent a unique position in the landscape of Israeli art.
For his solo exhibition at CCA Tel Aviv, the artist conceived a new site-specific sculptural installation commissioned and produced by the Center and tailored for its first floor gallery. The work, entitled F.L.O.O.R. (Formulated, Liminal, Oblique, Openable, Rectangles), consists of thousands of wooden segments laminated in different colors. Tiling the exhibition space, these segments create tessellated geometric patterns that crisscross throughout the gallery, covering most of its floor. To physically enter the heart of the installation, to literally go through the work, visitors are obliged to tread on the locking rows of colorful segments. Unfolding from this tiled floor, multiple sculptural structures sprout up, leaving empty gaps in the tessellated wooden surface, where the pieces of wood once lay. Further advancing into the installation, the tiled floor breaks up into groups of segments creating geometric patterns and leaving swathes of bare floor to complete their negative spaces. On the other side of the installation, joint pieces of wood unravel – stretching across the gallery floor and spiraling into a loop, similar to a loose thread – and untie the work, giving a sense of transient temporality.
Israel explores the notion of “sculpture as place,” coined by artist Carl Andre, and furthers it by presenting sculpture not only as a physical place but as a virtual one as well. The unified wooden components are the standard components of the entire environment holding the potential of countless configurations to emerge into the three-dimensional space. The towering geometric structures resemble people integrated within a place, moving, taking actions, and some are folded back to fit neatly into the tiled floor. Inspired by early modernist art movements, Navajo and Hopi weaving traditions, Op Art, and sacred geometry, the overall experience is somewhat uncanny as if stepping into a pixelated image or a woven rug – an interconnected, total, and enclosed sculptural environment that holds within itself the tension of self-destruction.
“Reuven Israel: F.L.O.O.R. (Formulated, Liminal, Oblique, Openable, Rectangles)” is curated by Nicola Trezzi. The exhibition is supported by the Philip and Muriel Berman Foundation, Sam Ben-Avraham, Sonia S. Cummings, Giora Kaplan, Thomas Rom, Marc Schimmel, Chaim Zach and the artist’s representing galleries – Braverman Gallery, Tel Aviv, and Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles; hospitality provided by Outset Contemporary Art Fund. The exhibition was conceived in collaboration with MAMBO – Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá, where it will be presented in 2022.
F.L.O.O.R. (Formulated, Liminal, Oblique, Openable, Rectangles), 2021
Baltic Birch, PVC and brass hardware, installation view at CCA Tel Aviv-Yafo
Photo: Elad Sarig
Reuven Israel: F.L.O.O.R. (Formulated, Liminal, Oblique, Openable, Rectangles)
December 31, 2021
September 29, 2021