A Field of Nuancesby Yuval Saar | 28.01.15
Small characters of people and animals form the basis of “Figurines”, Yaakov Kaufman’s new and charming solo exhibition that opened at the Periscope Gallery at the beginning of the month, and closes this Saturday (January 31st). The figurines created by Kaufman, a senior in Israel’s industrial design scene, expose part of a figurative and conceptual research process from the past decade and continue his occupation with personification of elements. The result – unsurprisingly- is poetic, exciting and inspirational.
“For Kaufman, working with the small figures isn’t sculpting, it’s testing the feasibility and behavior of connectors and materials”, says the exhibition curator, Merav Rahat. “These are small tests that he performs to explore the area where “nothing” turns into a character. The materials he works with are projects from the regular works of the studio.”
The exhibit includes a large platform on which the figurines are organized, it’s an exposed installation made of hundreds of figures placed together. “Kaufman plays with the idea of “figurines” placed behind glass in ethnographic museums, takes them out of their ritualistic and decorative context, and makes the unmediated encounter with them a humor filled experience”, adds Rahat. “The interactions created between the figures due to their placement next to each other adds new meanings to them, making them part of a collection of imaginary stories in which each one of the characters demonstrates its own body language and speaks its own unique dialect. Kaufman hears a lot of Yiddish…”, she says with a smile.
Lead by the question of when a “thing” turns into a character, Kaufman creates small sculptures of communities, tribes and families, that are models and sketches of feasibility, through which he explores materials, connectors, relationships between shapes and craftsmanship technologies. These small sculptures are used by him as a step in the process of planning and developing industrial products, and as a platform in which he interacts with existing products, while simultaneously corresponding with the cultural history of the figurine world and the history of his own creation in this field.
“For example, an X connector for a lamp he designed for ‘Lumina’ appears in the exhibit as part of a figurine. In other objects you can find different kinds of stretching and sharpening. This way, he explores materials and connectors while interacting with the world in which he works: the world of industrial design. Didactically, in the exhibition you meet a creator which, in the dialogue between design and art and between design and sculpting, declares that he is a designer, unwilling to be defined as an artist.
“In the end of the day, the exhibition exposes a man who has been researching for years, exploring the smallest nuances; he refers to design as a field of nuances. It’s a world in which the angle of a connector can be the entire difference between one product and another. He has hundreds of characters through which he explores nuance after nuance – to here and to there – and in a body of years of work it’s interesting to follow what happens within this unique “connector’s” language; are there changes in style and dramatic differences, or are they all cut from the same cloth.
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Another version of this post was originally published in Hebrew on http://byfar.co.il and translated by Yuval Regev.