Exhibition 24.06.17 – 15.7.17 – Israel

Nachshon Ofek

Even as a young boy, Nachshon has demonstrated a burning desire to create, when his qualms and search of an artistic language were still burgeoning. His artistic path was paved, and his role was to make it happen. He embraced a style favored by many youths: Comics. Early efforts to play by the rules of comics that he learned from different sources have survived to this day and attest to his perseverance, the constant honing of his abilities and echoes of many subjects he has encountered in magazines. As befits his comic illustrations, Nachshon has invented whole stories, meticulously detailed within those familiar panels. It was a short leap from comic strips to fantasy drawings, where Nachshon has truly found his calling. The possibility of expressing complex ideas in an aesthetic and eye-catching way was a true manifestation of his artistic aspirations. His early works from around that time tell the story of his slow and withdrawn coming of age. Portraits of women take pride of place, from those immature drawings investigating the female form, to the self-assured artwork expressing femininity in full bloom.

His fantasy world matched his existential aspirations: It is far more pleasing, beautiful and interesting to live in a make-believe world where anything is possible, rather than the dull reality of everyday life. In these fantasy worlds there could be dragons, who sometime serve as vehicles for gorgeous women. In these make-believe worlds, the creator can daydream and make his illusions come true – make them his own personal reality. The fantasy world is ever perfect. This alternate reality captured his imagination and his moments of leisure, became the core of his existence. Daily life was much less important, for in this alternate world there is no loneliness, love conquers all, and hardship and adversity are non-existent. We all wish to live in a fantasy world much like Nachshon’s.

At this stage of his artistic development, Nachshon’s drawing skills have reached their apex: he drew with a firm hand and very little need for correction, and his spatial perception was exceptionally good – he often challenged himself using unorthodox angles, like drawing a room from above, so that the room is only partially seen, with just a bed and a sleeping figure laying on it. However you choose to turn this work, it is correct from every angle, a most ingenious and original execution. And there are other works, where the artist’s curiosity has led him to further investigate space and its inhabitants, and that is how his sculptures were born. Nachshon chose to sculpt in das clay, perfect for hasty and inaccurate pieces, yet Nachshon has forged this clay into exquisitely accurate, highly-detailed and perfectly executed sculptures. Until I stood before his body of work, I have never encountered a sculptor who has shown such high-quality skills using this rather problematic raw material. The subjects of his sculptures are all part of the fantasy world he loved so much. These women’s busts in various compositions would fit perfectly in a first-rate sci-fi movie. Minute details such as facial hair add basic information to build a whole story around it – a story the artist himself has probably told himself during his process of creation.

A huge chunk of his body of work is black and white, and this color scheme minimalism holds a different kind of power, emphasizing the form without trying to overshadow it. There is only a handful of colorful pieces, some experimental, others meant to portray another layer of ideas, on top of the initial form. The white sculptures radiate an existential purity, in spite of their fantasy world subject matter. They attract the eye, they captivate the heart.

Over time, Nachshon’s maturity has found its full expression in a more coherent world view of recycling. He collected pieces of furniture cast aside, restored them and turned them into one-off items. Under his capable hands, broken chairs morphed into precious objects. A small table was given new life as a lovely work of art, decorated with delicately colored paintings, while some bar stools were covered with vivaciously colorful paper. The artist has chosen to surround himself with objects blending perfectly with his highly imagined world view. There is a fine line between restored objects and works of art, both clearly serving the same purpose.

A survey of Nachshon’s body of work is akin to a magical voyage to a fantasy land, a journey to his inner world, a discovery of his active imagination, a delve into a rare and pure mind. His prolific legacy is a testament to the artist’s existence in higher spheres, much better than ours, and to his ability to lead among us, a different life than ours. Most of his work prompts us to give it a second and third glance, to dig deep and uncover ideas and expressions rarely seen at first glance. Sitting in front of his art allows us to connect with the origins of this imaginary world, with the wondrous existence of the artist himself.

Hana Barak Engel