Miriam Gamburd, one of the most complex and intriguing Israeli artists, has formulated a personal language, typified by drawing virtuosity and a powerful expressive ability, that draws on the traditions of Renaissance, Symbolism, and Expressionism; a unique, identifiable language in the local art scene.
In her new exhibition at the Tel Aviv Artists’ House Gamburd weaves several themes together to recount a stratified tale that corresponds with both the classical and the modern, the mythic and the mystical, using a blend of sculpture, drawing, and installation. The physical and the metaphysical, the overt and the covert, are intertwined in her work. The sculpture The Birth of Lilith was inspired by the gargoyle water spouts at St Vitus Cathedral in Prague, which allegedly spit water in public and fire clandestinely. The sculpture Flowering of the Jujube alludes to Japanese culture as well as to the birth of Talmudic Lilith, the winged demon who was Adam’s first wife.
The sculptures in the exhibition are accompanied by series of drawings published in the artist’s book, The Pulse of the Evil Impulse, addressing love and abomination in the Talmud and the Midrashim. Gamburd, one of the top drawing artists in Israel, creates her works with a confident hand which conveys power and mastery of the figurative medium. Her drawings do not attempt to outline images which resemble reality, or reconstruct a naturalistic style. By means of a classical drawing ability, they strive to lure viewers and take them on an elaborate personal journey which defies established conventions, while remaining faithful to artistic truth, which ties past, present and future, myth and tradition, together.
Gamburd’s oeuvre is rich in creative imagination, at time theatrical, at others surreal, underlain simultaneously by pain and love. The title of the exhibition, “Homo Vulgaris,” calls to mind prevalent terms such as Homo sapiens and Homo erectus. On a 10-meter long roll of Italian paper—a broad sheet drawn chapter after chapter—different narratives mesh, among them a futuristic utopian city in whose squares enlarged sculptures by Auguste Rodin and Antonio Canova are set against the backdrop of skyscrapers as in Dubai and Baku. The roll further introduces hijab-covered Muslim women, reveling at the sight of the nude sculptures hewn in the marble, drawings of Gamburd’s own sculptures from various angles, and elements extracted from her animated film, Cherubs in Life-Size, in which she fulfills a secret wish: shattering well known sculptures and installing her own sculptures of cherubs “held together” in their stead.
Arie Berkowitz, curator of the exhibition