Artist Bulletins for Gil Shachar
2 archived bulletin(s) below.
(Note: Bulletins are no longer updatable as of 2015.)
Shachar sets new accents
F. Bauar (12/01/2009)
Gil Shachar is an outstanding artist, living and working in
Germany for the last 9 years. Since he won the Lehmbruck
Stipendium in Duisburg in 1996, he has gained quite a reputation
in and outside Germany, and participated in important exhibitions in renown venues.
In his work, Shachar sets new accents in the tradition of naturalistic sculpture, combining subtle references to contemporary and ancient art
with a high technical level. His refined casts made of epoxy and wax, which are in part a result of a painstaking and lengthy process, transmit an atmosphere of stillness and meditation. Their presence succeeds in attracting the viewer in an imediate way, thus creating a kind of a sensual and intellectual trap .
Gil Shachar, On Paradoxes of Representation, Illusion and Vanity
Franz K. (12/01/2009)
On Paradoxes of Representation, Illusion and Vanity
From Catalogue essay:
Shachar’s sculptures, albeit cast from live bodies or real objects, are autonomous representations. They have no distinct relation to an approximate reality outside themselves, just as they have no affinity to a specific space in which they are supposed to exist, as it were. They avoid telling a story or saying something unequivocal about the world. It is more tempting to regard them as a line in a poem; as conducting feelings, generating an atmosphere, isolating individual moments.
“Everything I do in my art pertains to the body. My sculptures aspire to be a body, to be body-like.” This simple, albeit obscure statement made by Shachar encapsulates the essence of the entire paradox, which I perceive as a key principle in his work; a paradox on whose twists and turns I would like to shed light in this text.
Shachar`s closed-eye portrait sculptures, comprising a head and half of the upper body (a cut torso) transmit humility, compassion and introversion. There is not even an inkling of showiness about them. They are not wrapped in shells of material wealth (David is naked, Birgit in an undershirt). David and Birgit – with pensive, meditative expressions, are not represented by visual metaphors of power, but are rather mounted just as they are. Paragons of silence, contemplation and melancholy. Their unique features are fully exposed, faithfully and accurately, clear and transparent, touchable, painfully naturalistic. Their personality is present; there is spiritual harmony between them. They look like a couple.
The eye-shutting in these portraits is indeed marked by the power of avoidance, but not in order to create a distance. As in earlier sculptures where Shachar sealed the faces by means of masks, and like the back-turning in his back sculptures, the eye-shutting serves him to hide, divide, evade a direct gaze, to remain anonymous. The eye-shutting prevents the viewer from penetrating into the figures’ ‘inner world’. It is also the source of disconcert. There is a combination of tranquility and asceticism, passive yielding and a threatening laxness that brings to mind death masks. This sense is particularly conspicuous in another portrait attached to the wall, in the image of the balloon blower. The laxity of the face (the artist’s face?) is incongruent with the physical effort required in order to inflate a balloon. It is precisely this lack of effort to appear real that elicits the sense of discontent here. In this gap between the image and reality lies yet another paradox to which I will soon return.
What kind of a body perception emerges from the works? Here lies yet another paradox: ostensibly this is an amputated body, deconstructed into its organs, but in fact there is no preoccupation with prostheses or amputation here (as emerges from Robert Gober’s works, for example). Moreover, even if the organ is removed, it is perceived by the viewer as a tight monolithic image. “I don’t need the entire body to convey a specific image; the hand is sufficient,” Shachar remarks. Nevertheless, there is something disconcerting about partial body representations, especially in a work such as the hand that supports a bleeding arm. It seems to me that it is precisely the humanness of the body that is so chilling. This is not a bionic, nor a cyborgean body; it is a human body, too human, and when it is finally a whole body, it is a dead body, covered with a sheet or rolled up in a rug.
Camouflage, disguise, concealment, illusion, and covering are also characteristic of the technique, whose underlying paradox is essential to the works’ strategy (“the medium is the message”). Almost all of them are cast from wax and epoxy. The objects and body parts look ‘real’, but in fact, they are ‘fake’, a perfect imitation. A cast is usually intended to replicate, to create a set of identical objects (copies). In Shachar’s case, each cast is a one-off piece – singular, original, one-of-a-kind. A different mold for each sculpture. In other words: on one hand, defying “the aura of authenticity”, while on the other – sanctifying the value of authenticity and originality within the realm of reproduction.
The attempt to anchor Shachar’s work in the tradition of art history, thus, confronts yet another paradox. On one hand, a leaning towards the so-called “classics”; his greatest loves are Jan Vermeer, Fra Angelico, early Flemish painting (mainly van der Weyden and van Eyck). His sculpture too, is rooted in a seemingly classicist sculptural tradition: it is figurative, exhibiting meticulous finish, attention to detail, an illusion of representation, a yearning for the ‘truth’. On the other hand, an awareness of the failure of mediation, the impossibility of representation, the multiplicity of meanings, and the internal contradictions – all these render his work strikingly contemporary.
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