Boaz Vaadia - About the Artist - Articles, Awards, and Reviews

"Boaz Vaadia"
Barbara Pollack
ARTNews - September 2003

Kraft Lieberman
Through October 18th

Boaz Vaadia creates figures in stone that appear simultaneously ancient and futuristic. His process requires precision and patience; the sculptor chisels sheets of statified slate, a highly fragile material, then stacks these shaped slabs into figurative forms. The final product, an accumulation of hundreds of stony strata balanced on top of one another, is secured by a system of metal armature and adhesives hidden from view. Often Vaadia later casts the sculptures in bronze editions, preserving the raw quality of the originals.

For this mini-retrospective, the artist has assembled a cast of characters - three life-size tableaux and more than ten maquettes on pedestals - evoking both a puppet-maker's workshop and an Egyptian tomb. In Asaf & Yo'ah (2001), two figures seem to rest against a boulder atop a circle of chipped rocks. Posed as if for a photograph, yet faceless, they simultaneously appear to be earthly beings and universal symbols of humanity. Nearby, two smaller works on pedestals - Yig'al & Amaya (1999) and Ge'w'el & Binyamin (2002) - present variations on this idea. Despite their apparent stony stoicism, they have a quirky, humerous appeal: their rounded forms and lack of distinct features reacal the anonymous figures on bathroom or street signs.

For Vaadia, stone is an enduring aspect of human environments. He collected slate from the streets of New York's Soho when its sidewalks were torn apart in the mid-1980's. More recently, his boulders have come from construction sites in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, where he has a studio. It is not surprising that his statues seem equally at home in urban and natural settings.

The art-historical allusions in Vaadia's work extend from statues if Egyptian pharaohs to the work of Henry Moore. A recent small bust f a woman's face conjures up the massive heads found on Easter Island, but it also bears an uncanny resembleance to sculptures produced by 3D CAD software. It is Vaadia's strength that his sophisticated workmanship forms a bridge from the Stone Age to the digital age.

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