Conversation with the artist

Read an interview with curator Revital Alcalay

RA:
Looking at your work set me on a journey; at first glance the images seemed like naïve cave paintings, ancient graffiti, crude scenes in the larger outdoor context or framework. The journey then turned to revealing order and beauty within the jaggedness and crudeness of the images, compositions of shapes and energy creating anticipation for more revelations, hidden in layers yet to be disclosed.
RA Question:
Your art encompasses a strong element of proprietary practice and process that you have developed. You have started to apply your particular techniques and distinctive set of materials around 1998. How would you describe the path you have taken since then, and how do your current works relate to earlier ones?
AS Answer:
I have always been interested in the relationship between construction and deconstruction. In my early works I painted colourful compositions in oil on canvas in the cubistic spirit. I later began exploring a different side of the work and started to experiment with the destruction of the surface. Working on cork boards, using wood scorching pen, screwdrivers, saws and hammers—anything that will damage the surface—I scratch, tear, engrave and burn, and then taint it or rectify it with substances such as wine, ketchup, laundry detergent, mud or iodine, each with its own unique attributes and connotations.
Though I have always been closely surrounded by expressions of grand life narratives, my own drive has always been a much simpler, narrower and childlike place of desire—the power to demolish and then rebuild. My urge came from a place with no rules, no library of knowledge, science or engineering. It is simply an authentic, instinctual expression.
RA Question:
There is an impression that a coded layer lies hidden within your work. Could you give us an insight into your creative process?
AS Answer:
The first stage in my creation process is done without thought. It is an intuitive work that embodies an attempt to relinquish control. I work with music in the background, and create with an internal, intuitive drive. At the second stage I allow my subconscious instincts to emerge, and I often contemplate their meaning, observing the mutilated panels sometimes for hours or days, and find shapes and figures in it, as if were looking for images in the clouds. These shapes and figures require that I strengthen or emphasize them. At the third stage, I respond and start to manicure the work by gentle carving and crafting, adding ornaments and writings.
RA Question:
What influences your work, and what is the inspiration for your images?
AS Answer:
My geographical and cultural ecosystem bursts with unrest and tension. I tend to be influenced by the rhythm of the Levant’s current affairs, but moreover, I am interested in the region’s history, archaeology, ancient scripts and languages. The marks of its peoples and their still resonating empires. At the same time I also relate to the Cobra avant-garde movement (1948-1951) in Europe, in particular Karel Apple, and the work of Joan Miro, Paul Klee and Jean Dubuffet.
RA Question:

How does your background and experience as an architect, who designs and plans spaces from concept down to small details and numbers, relate to your art practice?
AS Answer:
Architecture is another form of art. My art has always inspired my designs, not the other way around. The creative process where I go from the macro to small explicit details, has guided me through many professional challenges and allowed me to deal with randomness, errors and inaccuracies with insight and intuition, instead of mere rationality.
RA Question:
Your choice in cork is distinctive and consistent. Is there a particular significance to cork in your work?
AS Answer:
The cork that I use in my work, for example, is a very resilient material, and its tree is one of the only types that can withstand forest fire. The more I learned about its complex production process (cork is harvested every nine years), the more I realized how these trees are in a constant state of regrowth and recurring trauma. At that point my first positive impression with the colour and the tactility of the material turned personal, and as a result the restoration and destruction in my creative process have become influence by ethical decisions. To me this material embodies history with rejuvenation as its primary trait, and the choice in cork is a metaphor to a universal wish to mend that which is broken and settle the chaos. It is a manifest of hope for the future.