Gili Avissar, Lilienthal Gallery, 23 Emory Place, Knoxville, May 2023
Vibe, the latest exhibition at Lilienthal Gallery, 23 Emory Place, opened last week and will run through August. Featuring “textile, thread, and color,” the exhibition virtually explodes with color. A grand opening, held last Friday, encouraged guests to ramp up the color quotient, uniting guests and art in the theme. The exhibition includes two artists from Knoxville and four from Israel.
Ilana Lilienthal, artist and owner of the gallery said,
These artists exemplify a deep connection to the spiritual and natural world and encourage us to find a place for our inner vibe together. With the presence of color, textile and thread in our cultures, it seems necessary to examine the roles and roots of these materials in creating the process of art.
As with all the exhibitions at the gallery, Vibe challenges conceptions of art incorporating more traditional forms with multi-layered works that require more thought. The event itself featured music and dance, incorporating a wider range of senses. The six featured artists include Gili Avissar, Gittit Fridberg, Maria Merfeld, Carl Gombert, Joseph Ashman and Orel Brodt. Each challenges limits in their own way whether by the subject matter include, the blend of the ancient with pop culture, or the construction of sculpture with non-traditional materials.
The exhibition is curated by Ilana Lilienthal, Tally Ben Sira, and Anat Ahouvi-Baruch. Gittit Fridberg traveled to the U.S. for the opening and gave a brief presentation of her work. Here’s a bit of an intro (shortened from the promotional material) to each artist and what you’ll encounter at the exhibition (be sure to visit the basement for an entirely different “vibe”):
Gili is a multidisciplinary artist who primarily works with textiles to create large-scale installations and videos. His practice involves a dynamic interplay between object-making and performance, with a deep interest in investigating the interaction between materials and movement. Avissar turns every work inside out and rearranges it into intense and colorful compositions, using sculpture, installation, and video performance to uncover the “flesh” and create immense and transformative environments that engage the viewer in new and unexpected ways.
We can see the influence of nomadic tribes, ceremonial masks, carpets, and some elements from traveling theaters of the past. Faces and eyes peering through the fabric
reference the protection against “evil eyes” in eastern cultures. The tribal scene and the need to change identities, cover, hide, and move is a type of “sacred and safe place” for Avissar. Threads and textiles intertwined with vivacious bold colors fill the space with vibrant energy.
Gittit Alexandra Fridberg
Gittit Alexandra Fridberg is a textile artist whose work explores the intricate relationship between fashion and art. With an education from Shenkar school and a background in fashion design, her artistic practice centers around thread and color. The thread that built the fabric becomes the primary independent material in her work.
Gittit’s recent works were inspired by the beauty of a flowering garden in spring, representing rebirth and growth. Sitting and living in the “wild garden,” the artist drew her inspiration from the contrast between wild and groomed, quiet and storms – distinctions that are the building blocks of life. The thread becomes a vital connector between things like fabric, people, and ideas. Combining the history of spooling threads with machine work, using technology as a tool to merge past and present.
Maria Merfeld’s multidisciplinary journey spans three decades and encompasses theoretical and practical approaches. Her material culture studies from historical and anthropological perspectives have influenced her artistic practice, drawing inspiration from diverse cultures, religions, and peoples. The use of materials and techniques showcases her ability to push the boundaries of traditional craft and create unique contemporary works of art.
The sculpture – “zeitgeist” relates to the duality of the red color and how this pigment was created. Historically, the ability to create red pigment was very limited in ancient times. Therefore only kings and popes could afford red garments or objects. As the manufacturing of the red pigment became more accessible, Red moves to the “other side.” Soldiers, socialists, and the working class could suddenly afford to use elements of red. Using the Red and weaving paper pieces (that resemble change) with paper threads all around with no front or back enable us to see it from all sides. The use of paper came from the fact that most of western human history was written on paper.
Carl Gombert perfectly balances form and symbol using geometry, patterns, and shapes. His art is reminiscent of Indian Mandalas and Native American quilting, focusing on the meditative quality of repetition. Using shapes such as circles and squares, he arranges them into a mathematical relationship that creates the feeling of sacred space.
The recurrence of simple elements produces a rhythm, connecting the spiritual with the earthly, the art with mathematics.
Through an improvisational process, Gombert combines decorative art-making traditions from across the globe. Medieval illuminations, Celtic and Islamic patterns, textiles, bread-weaning, quilting patterns together with symbols of Pop Cultures and stamps – all combined to create “Mandalas.” A Mandala is a geometric configuration of symbols. Eastern spiritual practices of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Shinto mandalas are used as a map for prayers and energy movements. It represents the spiritual journey through layers from them outside to the inner core.
Painting the landscape of the holy land ( Israel), Ashman is “weaving” vivid colors of spring dancing with lines and strokes. Working with traditional oils on canvas, the
landscape transforms into inner movement, portraying the moods and hopes the country is experiencing despite difficult events. Ashman strives to feel complete with nature as nature brings the potential of life-giving food, medicine, peace, and joy. The “psyche” or “soul” of nature is mixed with Ashman’s experience and emotions, striving for acknowledgments of the character of life itself.
Historically artists painted nature scenes as they saw or experienced them by trying to be true to reality, using the canvas instead of the camera we know today. Starting with the impressionist movement (circa 1869), artists began to express their personal take on nature. In his unique yet traditional way, Ashman takes this modern approach and brings a refreshing “Spring” feeling. Intertwining impressionism with expressionism, adoring nature through her colors and strength.
Orel Brodt is a young upcoming artist with in-depth experience in fashion, textiles, and color. In her work, Orel takes the threads and fabrics from her design world, translating them into strong brush strokes and weaves them together with bold, bright, exuberant colors that express the many layers truly consisting of the human spirit.
Breaking out from a tree, we see strong, resilient female figures in vivid colors that transport the viewer through a journey of new beginnings.
Throughout the ages, people looked to trees to feed not only the flesh but to nurture the spirit and mind. The figures stemming from the roots are deeply grounded, growing through the heart center of the tree of life. The branches of hair reaching toward the sky signify our limitless potential. The desire to summon herself with colorful
creations and the message to lift the spirits in order to survive emotionally gives us the happiness we are all looking for. Spring awakes nature with spots and currents of incredible complexion participating in the dance of color and shapes, Brodt is creating a unique VIBE.
Vibe offers a fascinating, complex journey through a world of color. All works are available for purchase. The exhibition continues through August and you can learn more about the exhibition and gallery by visiting the website. Current Gallery hours are Wednesday – Sunday 12pm – 6pm or by Appointment 865.200.4401.