In Demons and Fields, Shay Arick’s solo show in Tel Aviv Artists’ Studios Gallery, most sculptures are made of dried Ficus leaves he collected near his home. The vertical constructions are like linear drawings of delicate figures—they sway gently with the air or rotate in place through an automated mechanism. Each has its rhythm and character, evoking wonder and awareness of life’s fragility. Arranged along an extended white platform reminiscent of a road, these characters appear as if caught in a paused procession—some still move but remain anchored as part of a collective entity, an undefined network, or an intricate matrix. It is a nuanced and powerful metaphor for life’s transience in a complex reality. It is the second exhibition by Shay Arick since his return from New York City to Israel a year and a half prior. The show, curated by Eitan Bognim, opened on October 6th but was closed the next day on October 7th, due to the devastating Hamas attack on southern Israel and the subsequent ongoing war. The conversation with Shay Arick focuses on his art and his process.
Tell us a bit about the body of work in this show.
For quite some time, I have wanted to make a multidisciplinary exhibition that includes works from various mediums, styles, and periods. In recent years, I have made delicate abstract sculptures shaped from dried plants—carefully connected with pins. Many of the sculptures are made of the Ficus leaves collected from the foliage I could find everywhere in the garden by my home. Each leaf is cut into a specific shape. In some, I combine a copper thread that adds another sculptural element. Some dried plants are installed on a wooden platform in the middle of the gallery space, grouped to create a sculptural ﬁeld. The linear sculptures resemble architectural drawings in space—some are set in motion aided by motors and mechanisms or only by natural air currents. For example, one dried leaf embedded with a circle cut in the middle is connected to a clock mechanism and moves with each passing second. In another sculpture, the upper part is attached with only one pin, creating 360-degree movement.
The second body of work consists of abstract and vibrant oil pastel paintings and drawings. The images are framed by thick, irregularly shaped foam frames of various colors and densities. In one of my latest paintings, I used cutouts from old artworks, meticulously glued together with tape—I cut my old and new oil paintings with scissors and connected the pieces with gaffer tape. The result is a see-through suspended collage. It has two sides: one side is colorful and vitrage-like, and the other side contains three colors—the black and white gaffer tapes and the beige, which is the other side of the cut canvases.
The photograph Between the head, life, and heart lines shows a small, dried leaf on my palm. The lines of the crumbling leaf become one with my hand’s lines. Demons and Fields mark my ﬁrst multidisciplinary installation since bidding farewell to NYC and the life I left behind.
All photos courtesy of Daniel Hanoch
About the artist: Shay Arick is an Israeli visual artist based in Tel Aviv. Arick is a recipient of the Murphy Cadogan Contemporary Arts Award and the Eileen Cooper Award for Creativity, the America-Israel Award for Excellence in Sculpture, and a Mif’al HaPais Grant recipient, among others. He received support through many residencies and fellowships, including The International Sculpture Center, MASS MoCA, Kadist Art Foundation, Wassaic Project, Residency Unlimited, NARS Foundation, The Watermill Center Summer Residency, Ox-Bow, and New York Foundation for the Arts Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program. His work has been shown in venues such as Haifa Museum Of Art (Haifa), Y Gallery (New York), Watermill Center (New York), San Francisco International Arts Festival, Southern Exposure (San Francisco), SOMarts (San Francisco), Subterranean Arthouse (Berkeley), Ground For Sculpture (New Jersey), ZiZspace (Tel Aviv), Binyamin Gallery (Tel Aviv), Contemporary Arts Center (New Orleans), OnSpace (Beijing), Art Museum of China Central Academy of Fine Arts (Beijing) among others.