Menashe Kadishman is one of Israe’s most celebrated artists, whose works enjoy an excellent international reputation. Exhibitions in his homeland, in the United States, in many European countries and recently also in Japan, China and Thailand have been showing his opus time and again and convincingly ever since the sixties. Participation in several editions of theVenice Biennale and the Kassel Documenta demonstrate the innovative strength he applies to combining art with nature. His works are owned by many museums all over the world and by several private collectors.
At sixty-seven years of age a member of the middle generation of Israeli artists, Menashe Kadishman has worked with breathtaking creativity throughout his life. After an exploratory early figurative phase, the sculptor turned his attention vigorously to abstraction and cautiously to conceptualism.And yet allusions to figurativeness were always somewhere there.Humans, animals and nature form a unity that Kadishman brings together. His work with cut sheet steel, from small to monumental formats is entirely devoted to this trinity, as is the colorful painting he has been working on since around 1980.
Shalechet, which is Hebrew for “fallen leaves,” is the name we have given to the exhibition in the Suermondt-Ludwig Museum. Shalechet is also the title of one of Kadishman’s most stirring works: some ten thousand heads, whose features are etched in sheet steel, are distributed — actually thrown — across the floor. The metal groans like screams from their open mouths as you walk across them. There is no
question about who it is that is screaming: it is the victims, all sacrificial victims. The theme of victims, of sacrifice, overshadows all of Kadishman’s opus: the Biblical sacrifice, the ever-present sacrifice of all violence and war. Victims and sacrifice are also evident in the large format sculptures to be seen in Aachen. And one sacrifice, the willing, hope-imbued sacrifice of a mother, is certainly also what is meant by the
archaic scene of birth that has held such significant sway over Kadishman’s work for several years.
The sheep that crop up in Kadishman’s opus regularly, year after year, are sacrificial victims on the one hand, but at the same time signs of life, like those flocks that wander over the bare hills of Israel. Morning Light (Sheep and Sheep) is the name of a sculpture group of twenty heads of sheep mounted on steel wire and illuminated by fragments of mirror. While the simple name Flock says it all about the hundreds of
painted sheep’s heads that enliven the exhibition hall like colorful flowers.
That is what Menashe Kadishman sees in his works: fallen leaves and colorful flowers, not victims and sacrificial animals. Contemporary history identifies them as specific victims and as all sacrifices. The future is also destined to become history, in its turn, and there will always be new and dreadful and dreadfully unnecessary sacrifices. Menashe Kadishman charges his works with the solace that brings hope when he sees them as fallen leaves or colorful flowers.
Working with Menashe Kadishman is an experience: the experience of working with the most generous of friends. He gives his all every day, also for this exhibition, as do his friends.
So a word of thanks is in order for all of the here, for all those who have given freely of their many years of knowledge about him and his work for this catalogue: Amnon Barzel, Dov Gottesman, Avram Kampf, Ruth Kartoun-Blum, Mordechai Omer, Dan Miron, Pierre Restany, Marc Scheps, Arturo Schwarz, Christine Tacke.
Particularly valuable assistance was received from the Julie M. Gallery, Tel Aviv, the Art Front Gallery, Tokyo and the Galerie Hans Mayer, Dusseldorf.
My special thanks go to Dani Karavan and Raffi Kaiser, who introduced me to
Menashe Kadishman and showed me the desert, also to Edna Ben-Porat. I have so much to thank Menashe Kadishman for that I cannot even try to enumerate it here.
Let this suffice: when I made my first trip to the State of Israel last year, I was weighed down with worries and cares. The fact that I came away light of heart and will often return is due to him and to his work. Shalom