Exploring the multi-dimensional world of ‘kinetic art’ from Israel

Exploring the multi-dimensional world of ‘kinetic art’ from Israel

By KARAN CHOUDHARY | | 6 February, 2016
(Clockwise from top) Some of Agam’s kinetic art pieces exhibited at the show in Delhi & Yaacov Agam.
Yaacov Agam, an Israeli artist, takes art beyond the confines of two dimensions by adding the element of time to it. His first solo exhibition in India brings a new form, ‘kinetic art’, to the Indian art scene. Karan Choudhary explores this phenomenon.

It’s pretty hard to locate the Apeejay Art Gallery in Badarpur, and as I venture into the mostly deserted building, it seems that it has proved similarly elusive for others too. The gallery is playing host to Beyond the Invisible, a display of the works of Yaacov Agam, the octogenarian Israeli artist.

The pieces line the pristinely whitewashed walls, with each spaced far from the others. The first thing which I notice upon entering is a mirror overlaid with a bizarre pattern formed out of colourful binds. It’s difficult to make something of it, and as I move across it I can see the reflection of my face being contorted by the binds to give it an otherworldly look.

Agam, the progenitor of the kinetic art movement, has been active in the art world since the 1950s. In the early decades of his career, Agam sought to change the aloof and exclusive nature of classical art by making the people a part of his artwork.

After his initial experiments into this new form art, he expanded it to include building design, and now has buildings based on his design dotting landscape as diverse as New York and Singapore.

“Agam’s art is very visual; he uses the visual part of his brain more than the analytical, and his artwork appeals to our visceral senses, and exhorts us to use our visual sense more than the analytical one,” says Motti Abramovitz, who heads Bruno art gallery, and is curating this exhibition.

Agam, the progenitor of the kinetic art movement, has been active in the art world since the 1950s. In the early decades of his career, Agam sought to change the aloof and exclusive nature of classical art by making the people a part of his artwork.

“Kinetic art breaks the wall between the creation and the observer, and invites the viewer to participate with the art,” Motti tells me as I look at the mirror again. It’s pretty difficult to derive any meaning from what I see. Maybe my visage just isn’t deep enough.

Agam’s artwork seeks to introduce the fourth dimension to art. Most classical art exists in two dimensions, and sculpture in three. Agam introduces the element of time in his art too, as most of his works incorporate change within themselves. They either look different from different angles or can be interacted with and remolded by those who view them.

His artwork acquires a constantly changing meaning from these haphazard modifications imposed upon them by the public. The indeterminable transmutation which the public subjects these works to gives them a uniqueness which can only emerge from randomness.

“As opposed to other art displays, Agam told the public to touch and play with the work which he put on display,” Motti continues, as I feel the pressure building on me to glean some ethereal insight from the artworks on display. I give up on the mirror and go look at another installation called Hommage A Tantra. The word “Tantra” gives me hope that I would be gather the profound meaning which I’m sure rests within the work.

I view it from different angles, and the image changes. This must refer to the evanescent nature of all being, I conclude.

“Agam’s art seeks to combine the world of physics and science to that of art. He uses precision in his work, to create the effect he desires. The way light reflects off the boards is what makes Hommage A Tantra look so different from each angle,” explains Motti.

I try to ignore the superficiality of my interpretation of the artwork as I leave. Despite my best effort, I cannot but admit its inadequacy. For all the time I spent here, my philistine brain couldn’t grasp the meaning behind the art I saw.

And then it hits me.

I wasn’t supposed to, I only needed to see.  

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