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Exhibits & Museums

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Ilana Shafir Honored with Solo Exhibition at Ravenna Mosaico 2011 2011

On 08, Sep 2011 | 2 Comments | In Artists, Exhibits & Museums | By man-admin

Three weeks from today, we will be in Rome.  For the first time.  As part of a small group of similarly mosaic-addled friends.  With an itinerary that will take us from the ancient to the classical to the contemporary.

 Photos via Norman Tellis

Mimo Palladino at the Ara Pacis

Two weeks and one day from now, we will be in Ravenna.  Just in time to take part in Notte d’Oro, the opening celebrations for the 7 week long mosaic festival that is Ravenna Mosaico 2011.

Roto-B – Recuperi d’ Oro, 2008 Marco Bravura 

We are, to say the least, thrilled.

We are also thrilled to learn that the organizers of Ravenna Mosaico, the City of Ravenna and International Association of Mosaic (AIMC), have selected the work of contemporary mosaic treasure, Ilana Shafir, as the only solo exhibit they are sponsoring this year.

Omaggio a Ilana Shafir opens October 9th at the beautiful Cloisters of Classense Library and features nine works by the internationally acclaimed Israeli artist.

Primal Glow, 2006  65 x 62.5 cm
Artist’s mosaic garden, Ashkelon, Israel

Shafir’s work is unmistakeable.  Powerful, flowing, joyful landscapes, cityscapes and creatures emerge from disparate pieces of stone, shell, glass, found objects and Shafir’s own ceramics.

My approach to mosaic is unique in the sense that I do not work with a prelimary sketch or blueprint.  Instead, I let my intuition and artistic sensibilities guide my work in a process I call Spontaneous Mosaic.  While I am using many of the same materials that were used in ancient mosaics, I aim to do so in a modern way.   Ilana Shafir

Cosmic Collision, 2005  60 x 63 cm
Collection of Laura Gavioli

 “Organic” is the first word that comes to mind when we think of Ilana Shafir.   Her approach, materials and subject matter are all very, very much “alive” and this, perhaps, is what makes her work so immediately engaging and satisfying to the viewer.

Birds In The Garden, 2010  60 x 80 cm

Bird’s In The Garden is an excellent example of Shafir’s signature sense of whimsy at work.  One can also see her mastery of composition – the work has three distinct vertical areas all of which are grounded by the horizontal area at the bottom.  Shafir uses andamento (e.g. the flow of pebbles behind the two central birds), line (e.g. the thin lines of gold radiating from the top of the piece) and cohesive color palette to make what should be a cacophony of disparate elements into a rich, magical, visual concert.

Peacocks, 2007  126 x 121 cm

Peacocks consists of four separate panels and the borders between the pieces can be easily seen – a hallmark of Shafir’s larger works.  There are some who find this component disruptive.  We agree with Mosaic Art NOW’s Exhibition in Print 2011 judges Emma Biggs and Matthew Collings when they spoke about their selection of Shafir as one of the Exhibition’s eight artists.

Her decisions about the junctions between her boards seem curious, but believable.  They advertise the construction, the ‘made’ quality of the work – a jolt alerting you to the fact that she is the author of the ‘magical’ qualities of her image making.  She is able, with this device, to resist the sentimental and to allow you to see her decisions, her carefree technique, as the hand of an artist who is concerned more about what she is communicating than with the technical aspects of her enquiry.  Biggs & Collings

Flows, 2010  181 x 141 cm
Artist’s mosaic garden, Ashkelon, Israel
Through the Waves, 2011 120 x 120 cm
Whirl, 2008 65 x 98 cm
Artist’s mosaic garden.  Ashkelon, Israel
Ilana Shafir is also an extraordinary teacher who feels a personal obligation to “share my ideas and philosophy about mosaic art.”  Known for her playfulness and individual attention in the classroom, Shafir says, “I learned a lot from my students, especially from children.  In fact, my observations of how children work helped me develop my own approach to mosaic making, ‘The Spontaneous Method.'”  
Several of her students have told us that spending time with Shafir changed their whole approach to art making.  “I feel totally free for the first time,” said one dazzled friend.
Shining Star, 2010  60 x 80 cm
Artist’s mosaic garden.  Ashkelon, Israel
Ilana Shafir is a Shining Star in the contemporary mosaic world.  She is also an extraordinary human being whose life has been an incredible journey.  What follows is a quote from a recent letter in support of Shafir’s candidacy for the Israeli Prize for achievements in the visual arts written by mosaic artist Rhonda Heisler.

Over the years I’ve also come to know Ilana’s personal journey – from her birthplace in Sarajevo, to the Yugoslavian coastal town that sheltered her family during the Holocaust, to her art studies in Zagreb, to emigration to Israel, the establishment of her own family, her career as founding director of the Ashkelon Art Center, and her development into a mosaicist of singular vision and international stature.  

Old Tree Blooming, 2011  61 x 83 cm
Artist’s mosaic garden.  Ashkelon, Israel

The thread through this remarkable life has been her dedication to the process of making art – a constantly evolving through-line we can trace from the talented child with a gift for drawing and insightful portraiture; to the dark, haunted portraits of the postwar period; to her re-embrace of life and a more optimistic world view as seen in her mid-career watercolors and intricate pen and ink studies depicting the natural world and all its creatures – real and imaginary.  Throughout the decades, Ilana has moved with mastery and distinction among many of the fine arts including drawing, painting, ceramics, and sculpture.

When not teaching, the 84 year old artist is in her studio daily finding inspiration from one single piece of something that will launch her next lush, rich, fantastical mosaic journey.  How we would love to spend time in her magical mosaic garden in Ashkelon.

Our thanks to Shafir’s daughter, Leah Shafir Zahavi and son, Giora Shafir for information and photographs used in this post.  We strongly recommend that you spend time on You Tube viewing “Milestones”, the biographical video that Giora has made about his mother’s life.  You will find links below.

And, if you haven’t already done so, please click on each of the photos above to get a close-up view of this beautiful work.

Enjoy – Nancie

SEE            Ravenna Mosaic 2011 details here
VISIT         Ilana Shafir’s website here
                   Rhonda Heisler’s website here
WATCH    “Milestones

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  1. Nancie Mills Pipgras

    We couldn't agree more, Ricardo. Thank you for commenting.

  2. Ricardo Lapin

    Bravo!!!! A little recognition for a great artist!! Success, Ricardo Lapin

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