The power of Boaz Vaadia's work derives from
his respect for and extension of natural materials and processes. Within
the course of the past two decades, he has concentrated on sculpture
made from stone and wood, employing a methodology dictated by properties
inherent in these media. This body of work is reflective of both nature
and the artist's own projection of human identity.
In the latter part of the seventies, Vaadia
utilized rock and wood in an abstract context. Roughly hewn wooden poles
lashed together around chipped slabs of stratified rock characterizes
sculpture that resembles fetishes or sacred markers. This direct treatment
of materials resembles early Native American, African or Pre-Columbian
cultures wherein certain objects evoked a special or religious aura.
In both Vaadia's work and that of ancient civilizations, common substances
singled out for attention acquire spiritual connotations. His abstractions
of this period are otherworldly and animate in their effect.
Interestingly enough, the natural media he used
initially were gathered from his own New York City setting. Found sidewalk
sections, window slabs, curbstones and shingles were marshaled by the
artist into organically expressive work. Out of a stereotypic urban
blend of "development" and decay, he obtained métier for art.
Beginning in 1985, Vaadia turned his efforts
toward figurative motifs executed solely in stone. At this point the
orientation of the work became more vertical, paralleling human stance.
Retained from previous efforts was the utilization of gravity as a force
in maintaining stability. For these body-based forms, his methodology
entailed stacking gradated rock sheets in a formation suggestive of
individual stones modified by chisel-marked surfaces. By chipping away
unwanted rock, Vaadia took advantage of the way nature layers sediment.
Using traditional tools - hammer and chisel - he molded each single
stone to suit the whole composition. As a result, this work reflects
sculptural techniques which parallel natural transformations in stone.
The artist's stratification of stones echoes natural conversions of
With this figurative work, Vaadia has achieved
a sense of vitality through elemental positionings of isolated figures.
With initial pieces such as Avner
he monumentalized the single figure in a manner reminiscent of Egyptian
artisans portraying their king-god pharaohs. The feeling attained is
one of formality, dignity and solemnity. This is portraiture as personification
of noble princely traits. Simplicity and lack of individual depiction
indicate supernal importance and enigmatic presence.
In the latter part of the eighties, Vaadia introduced
second and third figures into his work. Among these are Maakha
and Rehavam and Asenat
and Yosef of 1988. Here he chose to represent a sense of
closeness and integration; in some a single stone is used for a composition
of multiple figures. His representation of these couples conveys a feeling
of merging between man and woman or of love's linkage.
Also of this period are Omri
and Ah'av and Lea
and Dina, signifying the independence and ties, respectively,
between parent and child. In the first case, a boy stands confidently
apart from the proud, seated father. The latter example involving a
mother and child signifies a sheltering, nurturing maternal presence
in relation to the dependent offspring.
A prophetic work form this time is Shimshon
and Delila Important here is the artist's inclusion of a
column between male and female forms, Currently, Vaadia has been experimenting
with the idea of including structural elements into his work, thereby
joining sculptural and architectural components. Additionally, this
work points forward to the artist's recent interest in expressive environs
for his figures. As the man's orientation is ninety degrees apart from
that of the woman, these two appear engrossed in separate thoughts.
They seem less a couple than two individuals casually related by circumstance.
Environmental contexts occur prominently in Rivqa
and Esav of 1991. In this updated portrayal of mother and
child, Vaadia maintains the idea of parental protection while introducing
new features. Now a boulder serves as a seat-support amid a circle of
stone chips that establishes territory for the sculpture. Typically,
the artist saw large rocks such as this one being pulled from the earth
during a recent excavation of the street in front of his Brooklyn studio.
Realizing their potential for his work, he immediately acquired several
with a small fork lift. In this instance, the boulder effectively adds
to feelings of repose, solidity and gravity.
1991, is expressive of the peace and serenity that arises form the experience
of a human being in consort with nature. Again, the seated figure appears
to be supported by the boulder, knees drawn up within a defined circumference.
This compressed area heightens a sense of contemplation. Compared to
earlier work involving single figures, there is a new sense of relaxation.
Portrayed now in harmony with its immediate surroundings, the figure
has become less rigid in feeling. As opposed to the earlier isolation
of the figure, there now occurs an enhanced feeling of the human being
participating in the external world. The soft contours of the boulder
echo the comfortable posture of the figure and emphasize its repeated
gradual curves. Full, swelling forms suggest sensations of restfulness.
In fact, the progressive evolution in this artist's
work form simplicity towards informality and tempered elaboration might
be related to the transition in Greek sculpture form kore through classical
versions of the figure, all of equal beauty and interest.
In establishing the intrinsic qualities of Vaadia's
work, comparison can be made with the oeuvre of English artist Henry
Moore. Both artists have worked with figurative themes such as the single
figure and the family group to create monumental statements of human
existence; both have integrated voids and caverns. The resultant sense
of interpenetration contributes to an expression of existential angst.
On the other hand, Vaadia's emphasis is on fullness and solidity of
form through which he depicts the human being in relationships and as
self contained centers of the universe, in repose and reverie.
Without individual details or features, Vaadia's
figurative motifs succeed in conveying powerful emotional content. His
distinctive ability occurs in creating a sense of human serenity and
dignity. His figures convey human nature as earthborn yet noble. Out
of stone, he succeeds in constructing semblances for sublime moments
in human existence. Using nature's way, this artist fashions a beauty
of form and of spirit.