Text: John Slyce
Amikam Toren is a self professed “maker thinker” , in part this proposes that a given materiality and physical engagement with those materials and their making and even unmaking , sits the fore and thought and thinking then operates intimately in dialogue with what is made . The relation of idea to materiality or indeed content to form flows through Toren’s rich and historically significant practice with representation as a central concern and irrepressible subject. Amikam Toren often works in series in Reproductions he gathers together and crystallizes much of the making and thinking he has explored in some fourty years of work. these are deceptively straightforward works and seemingly easy to describe, until one attempts to relate their making to the conceptual frame they operate in .Take a readymade painting, remove the painting from its streacher and flatten, revealing the corners and folds then cut two or four corners away, or the columns of canvas that demarcate the side edges and or the top and bottom edges of the painting. Stick the cut out fragments on a newly stretched canvas. The attached fragments will become the frame that will contain the reproduction. Pulp the reminder of the isolated oil painting to remove all pigment, mix this pigment with colorless acrylic to form paint .return the paint to the new supporting canvas in an equalized and complete re – presentation of the pigments and pallets used in the original painting. The complete work refers back to the original through a descriptive title, a storm, a still life or landscape, each either remembered or forgotten. the range of what at first sight announce themselves as monochromes , on closer inspection reveal the diversity of the entire palette first used and is still present – it is determined by each original painting . a complex and powerful act is carried out – a flattening of the flat . The inherent flatness of the picture plane, here accentuated and magnified. all is present in Toren’s reproductions, the painting and the act of making a painting is framed and reframed, the old is made new and the condition of representation over which all meaningful art lingers is not only reproduced but stripped bare, even part X-ray part dissection, these works are also a discourse on if not indeed a critique of the family relations of the photograph to both painting and its reproduction. Amikam Toren’s reproductions are archeology of the act, the medium and practice that explores painting and its object with a rigour unlike any other.
In his new exhibition “Carrots & Refreshments”, Amikam Toren will show two new series of video works from the years 2008-2009, a sculpture, and paintings from the series “Armchair paintings”.
About the videos: Twelve stories, strangely moving tales touched with humour, edged with the surreal. True stories, narratives of experience from the artist’s life, selected from a period of 40 years.
The precision of observation and the almost casual, natural humanity are arresting but, while the narratives themselves are deeply affecting, their form as voice-overs to fixed camera films of the scene of their occurrence has a powerful impact on our perception of location. Background and foreground, setting and story, softly change places as our listening and viewing shift as impulses to imagination.
Six short tales assembled into a seventeen minute anthology of acute reflection.
In Toren’s work the most elemental form or mundane object has its very material redeployed to suck out hidden meaning. It’s an alchemical process: a little assistance, a redistribution of resources, is all that is required to reveal the energy and significance contained within dull matter. Object, sign, experience, each and every casually accepted, and more often discarded, mundanity is open to challenge, transformation and adjustment, teasing out truths beyond its basic nature. In this exhibition, short deadpan videos, paintings and the orange peel sculpture are revealed as harbingers of formal and fanciful delight
Amikam Toren is showing in his first comprehensive exhibition in Israel works from four series.
Plan B is a three dimensional parallelogram built from 1500 wooden figurines, collected from different markets, representing diverse cultures and religions. The sculpture that looks like an architectural model combines esthetical tensions accumulating to a powerful effect of beauty, astonishment and wonder.
Insomnia institute is a series of drawings created through the observation of the emerging sculpture of Plan B. Therefore, the automatic drawings draw one’s attention back to the sculpture as though capturing the empty spaces between the figurines.
Clouds in trousers are five white overalls worn by artists during their work in a studio. Toren uses an unpicked trouser as a canvas stretching it on a wooden frame; he lets his brush wander on the surface until some image appears on the fabric while cleaning the excesses of paint on the overall. The line of overalls hanging on the wall inevitably invites some unpleasant images of a slaughter house.
Armchair paintings are oil paintings that one can buy at the market and antique shops. In the center of those idealistic and kitsch paintings Toren cuts out words or sentences, thus updating the painting and recovering the lost quality. The bare wall behind the painting becomes part of it as the letters cast their shadows on the wall. The paintings represent a postmodern irony as a work of art is upgraded through its destruction.
Naomi Aviv, curator