Text for 'Beyond the Object. On the Creative Spectrum' exhibition by Raffael Lomas and Tai Lomas at Espronceda Institute of Art & Culture, within the frame of YOUNG GALLERY WEEKEND (27.09 - 05.10.2019).
Beyond the Object. On the Creative Spectrum
The exhibition Beyond the Object. On the Creative Spectrum is the result of the collaborative work between sculptor Raffael Lomas and photographer Tai Lomas in which, through an artistic dialogue, the process of creation goes beyond the merely objectual to generate new multidisciplinary relationships that, in turn, provoke new conceptual approaches to the art work.
Taking as a starting point a ready-made object - the chair - Raffael Lomas transforms and manipulates reality through a sculptural language that, without adding or removing materiality, creates a new identity that unfolds multiple meanings. This new sculpture represents the beginning of another creative process between sculptor and photographer that leads to the Simultaneously series. Here, Tai Lomas converts three-dimensional objects into two-dimensional ones. He seeks to capture the hidden aspects of sculpture by allowing the viewers to expand their experience and simultaneously contemplate three different points of view of the same sculptural object, discovering new narratives and identities.
This creative process continues to develop when Raffael Lomas cuts the chairs in two (opening a new branch within the sculptural language), enabling the possibility of movement within the sculpture itself. This is how Tai Lomas approaches it, investigating the gravity of the empty space between the two parts of the chair, what is present and absent, and wondering what would happen if a body inhabited the same empty space as the sculptures. This question leads both artists to consider an innovative phase of dialectics born from a new multidisciplinary relationship with dance. By inviting dancers from all over the world to interact with the sculptures, a new space of dialogue is produced between two opposing qualities, the immobile and the stable (the chair sculpture), and the mobile and alive (the bodies).
In Musical Chairs, Tai Lomas captures the ephemeral and immaterial essence of dance by freezing the movement of the dancers in dialogue with the sculpture, thereby creating photographic sculptures.
Both artists seek to capture and materialize this created movement of the dance between body and sculpture by offering a new image, the result of the memory of the body’s movement in space1. A memory that, through a three-dimensional camera, is translated into a trace that, in turn, reverts to the starting point and becomes an object.
This object is the result of a new relational sequence where movement takes material shape and which we can see in the Metamorphosis series, which consists of seven sculptures equal in form but different in material (bronze, gold, carbon fiber, copper, white plastic, platinum, and crystal). Equal and unique at the same time, thus representing a significant contribution to the definition of the sculptural series, also because the sculpture originates from something ephemeral: the trace of a movement.
Is the chair simply a chair, are the photographic images only photographs, are the moments simply time or can they also be matter?
In Beyond the Object. On the Creative Spectrum, Raffael and Tai Lomas navigate a quantum creative spectrum investigating the infinite possibilities and identities of an object, its hidden aspects, the essence of its transformation and the simultaneity of its existence, making visible what is invisible and material what is immaterial. A spectrum in which different languages, disciplines, spaces and presences intertwine to go beyond the object, exploring new ways of understanding, ultimately, the universe.
1 Space memories: I Chair Project, Imma Prieto Carrillo (2018)
Olga Sureda Guasch
Space memories: iChair Project
Imma Prieto Carrillo
1. INTRODUCTION: PROJECT SYNTHESIS
2. DEVELOPMENT: PROCESS
3. CONCLUSION: MEMORY WRITING
1. The iChair Project establishes a new relational chain between different disciplines -sculpture, photography, dance, architecture- with the aim of giving visibility to the imprint left by a body in space. The project is built under a new influence through which science, technology and art merge and allow to enter a space, unique and innovative, from which to think the force that a body, organic and inorganic, deploys in space. The result becomes the sum of memories articulated from the creative force of the gesture. A gesture that originates in and from the dialogue between the different languages that articulate the project.
The creative process of this series demonstrates that after the communion of the different disciplines, the possibility of observing the world under new parameters opens up. The particularity of iChair Project lies in the importance that the dialogue between object and subject establishes, offering a new sculpture that is the result of the memory of the movement of the body in space.
The new sculpture, an object, arises from the identity of the subject / body in space, in order to think about its imprint when it inhabits and occupies a place as a metaphor for contemporary space. The result allows dialogue with the presence of the dancers and the sculptures.
The whole part of a constant dialogue between opposites: visible / invisible, presence / absence, subject / object, mobile / immobile. A dialogue that shows that after the conjunction of all of them there is a reflection that points directly towards one of the great challenges of the contemporary world: to assume a universe, appealing to its holistic nature, from which to establish new codes to think about the human being and the footprint that this leaves in the contemporary world.
The project that is now presented is the result of a long research process in which different languages have intervened: sculpture, photography, dance and architecture. All this has interacted knowing how to listen from the silence and assuming the other under all its possibilities. Thus, a working method has been established that starts, in a certain way, to think each one of the languages under its potential dissolution of borders. Each discipline has allowed to be modified by another. The dissolution of borders between languages becomes the engine that creates new realities, thus offering a final object that is the bearer of all of them.
Through a close collaboration between art, science and technology, a kind of exquisite cadaver has been created that starts from a sum of multiple memories. The result, which in a metaphorical way appeals to the origin, is again an object that responds to two ideas: the sum of memories that forge the process and the imprint that the movement of a body leaves in space.
2. Raffael Lomas works with sculpture thinking it from a double nature: object and subject. He does not create a new work from matter, but from a found object, he dialogues with it and gives it a new meaning. Assumes the history of the object, in this case a chair, and from this acceptance, gives a new possibility to be. Chairs divided into two that lose their function but not their significance. The chair begins to be from new aesthetic categories, allowing us to stop to think about those presences that could occupy it and are no longer there, but also in that ontological view. This is how the photographer Tai Lomas approaches them, observing and questioning all these possibilities that the object deploys in space. Hence, his photography becomes a visual triptych based on the capture of different perspectives. Sculpture and photography continue the dialogue initiated between presence and absence. Interacting with each other and letting each occupy its place in turn. The project opens up to dance based on reflection on the ability to inhabit space. The dialogue between what is and what is not, brings you closer to the need to work with the body. A living body, in movement. A body that is directed and interacts with the sculpture. A new dialogue between the mobile and the immobile, that a normal camera could not capture. This new reality brings them closer to the possibilities that science and technology offer today. By using a camera that captures the movement they manage to generate a new image that becomes a translation of that trace that the movement of the body leaves in space. A movement that is caused by the object and by the sum of memories. For this they have worked with dancers from all over the world, allowing their own origins and memories, to converge with the one that generates the sculpture. This time the image generated by the camera is a kind of writing in space. Causing the footprint to be visible. A non-two-dimensional image, but through the use of a 3D printer they manage to create a sculpture from the generated image.
3. The generated image becomes a script. A writing / sculpture that inhabits space and that in turn challenges to generate a new writing / movement based on the dialogue established with space. The architecture of the pavilion becomes a page and the writing sculpture. Thus, we return to the origin, not only of the gesture, but of that first, invisible presence that surrounds all objects. Converting that stroke into writing. Returning to the body that power of communication, appealing to a zero degree of writing. A writing that technology knows how to reproduce and that offers us the possibility of returning to a new original nucleus. A nucleus that presents a double nature again: new visible object and old invisible subjects. Memories fused in a conjunction of presences and absences that return to inhabit the space. In a metaphorical way, the sum of languages, disciplines, origins, memories and presences becomes a metaphor for our contemporaneity, presenting the trace as a parable of the history of humanity.
Barcelona 2018, Imma Prieto Carillo
Finding movement in between
What makes our life visible? Tangible? Possible to cling to? The elementary objects and forms that surround us on a daily basis enable us to grasp ourselves in the world and touch concepts of time and space as well as to understand our limitations. The exhibition is a joined adventure of father and son, a sculptor and a photographer, both seeking for capturing not just the essence and possibility for a transformation of things but the simultaneity of their existence. They have created a multi-disciplinary, or as they prefer to call it – simultaneous-disciplinary project entitled iChair which continues to evolve over time and brings together sculpture, photography, dance and drawing.
The early beginnings of the project were during Raffael Lomas’ “Journeys of the Screw” in which he built a four-meters tall screw took it as his alter-ego, his cross, his wondering Jew embodiment, across Europe, the States and Asia. It was in this artistic and therapeutic endeavour that he formed the rules or limitations under which he will create his future works. One decree was to create works while being on the journey. Thus, while staying in Italy in 1998, he started making some chair sculptures but then rapidly moved to making wheel sculptures, developing them into a large series of wheel sculptures that was exhibited at Tefen Museum in 2007. Prof. Arthuro Schwartz, the art historian, critic and collector who was related to the Surrealists artists, met Lomas in 1999 and purchased a few works among them the Dancing Chair which he donated to the permanent collection of the Tel Aviv Museum of art in 2000.
A further decree Lomas took upon himself was while working on the wheels is to limit himself to the object’s matter thus cutting and bending and twisting it without adding or extracting from it. He continued to work in this manner with the chairs series that followed. However, by contrast to the wheel, the chair has not just functionalist, technical and aesthetic aspects that can be referred to the wheel but a human, anthropomorphic quality.
The chair is maybe the most basic and central object for design since more than any other object it is a unit of measure for human being. It is personal and standard, functionalist and intimate, extremely defined but offers endless variations. In modern art the chair has been a major motif, from Van Gogh’s initiating portraiture chair to Picasso’s post-cubistic sculptural chair, from Magritte hovering menacing chair to De Kooning’s family portrait chairs, from Bacon’s self-refectory twisted chairs to Warhol’s horrifying electric chairs. The most outstanding chair with the direct influence on the entire art of the 20th’s century and in particular on Lomas’ work is Marcel Duchamp’s work from 1913 Bicycle Wheel, his first readymade which was made out of a Metal wheel mounted on painted wood stool.
The chair also plays a significant role in Israeli Art which has been vastly researched by Prof. Motti Omer in his iconic exhibition and catalog – “The Empty Chair in Israeli Art”: From the chair of Elijah that is to be found in every synagogue to the chairs in the drawings of Aviva Uri and the paintings of Avigdor Arikha and Meir Pichhadze chair. It signifies the transcendental The waiting for element in Jewish thought. And of course there is the substantial difference between the wheel’s iron and the wood the chairs Lomas chooses to make.
Schwartz gives a beautiful description of one of Lomas’ earliest work that preceded the later larger series: “The Dancing Chair (1998) was an old, rickety metal chair, wicker –seated, on which it was impossible to sit. In fact, after having smeared the chair with colors, he had bent its back, overturned it backwards, and broken one of its legs, deflecting its lower half towards the inside. Thus Lomas’ chair, far from confirming its positive classical symbolism - as a metaphor for stability and power – acquired a totally negative connotation, becoming a prototype of precarious instability. In its tragic, battered, solitude it was a reminder of Van Gogh’s Chair (1888), which also radiated a feeling of desperate isolation.” (Arthuro Schwartz, “Raffael Lomas: the Screw and the Wheel, even”, in Raffael Lomas, Sculptures, The Open Museum, Tefen Industrial Park, 2007, p.94).
Lomas’ return to Israel in 2006 marks his transition to working intensely with the chair through manipulation of the matter. In the early stages a large part of the chairs was cut in two so that each half stood for itself and was manipulated and then joined together. But then he moved to researching and challenging their stability finding within them the movement, the space, the potential to inflate and deflate, to be clear and chaotic.
Lomas: “The substantial differences between the wheel and the chair, between the iron and the wood, created for a me a new a space for wandering. It’s quite obvious that a great deal of the iChair project is the transition between stillness and movement. As I reveal within the chair more and more chairs it is like walking on mountain’s paths or diving in deep water, finding traces of man in godforsaken places. Photography is capturing and freezing the moment – the object-sculpture is still anyway and it is the photograph that gives it a sense of movement.”
The joint project entitled iChair, inspired by the iphone concept of an object that is transforming in various ways and utilities, while the exhibition is called legend – a fantasy that holds up inside a legend of ways of seeing. The chair in art has been a symbol of absence and lose, of transcendence and negative imagery of the self, of projection and illusiveness of the self
His first work with his son, Tai, was in 2006 was while Tai was studying photography in Barcelona. Their cooperation has led to an artistic voyage that continues till today. The space between the two halves was further studied through as a void but also as an elusive place of movement. Tai took photographs of the chair sculptures from different angles, evoking them as simultaneous portraits, continuing the relation between photography and sculpture from its start in the early 20th century – documentation but also as independent artistic creations. In his series of triptychs and nines (which was exhibited in part in 2010 at Kayma gallery in Jaffa) Tai aimed at presenting a multitude if expressions and ways of looking at the sculptures and relating to them. He aims at expressing the complexity, contradictions and movement that exists within them.
Yet he was searching to further examine the dynamics existing in the sculptures so he moved to the next major step which was the dance, or rather the dancer. Tai and Raffael turned to dance companies and independent dancers and invited them to response with their body’s movement to the chair-sculptures. A new vibrating and expanding series of photographs started, and it now includes thousands of images. The sculptures were given further life and expression. In the most powerful images, the dancers and sculptures are one entity, transformed and unresolved.
Yet it did not end here, as father and son, sculptor and photographer wanted to further explore movement, form and space. They documented the dancers in their choreography with the chairs, then turned the video into a drawing line and then, through a unique technique in transformed the drawings into three dimensional sculptures.
Thus the exhibition presents a continuity of images, forms and mediums – one which begins with readymade and minimalistic interventions, continues to expressive sculptures that redefine form and space. They in turn become these independent photographic entities which are born again as a new photographic sculptures synthesized with the bodied of the dancers. For a long moment the empty chair is transformed into a living body only to disappear into a scribble that has a new incarnation as an abstract sculpture, refusing any definition.
Tel-Aviv 2017, Irena Gordon