FLOW/זרימה/ течь

Artist: Elina Itan

Curator:  Amnon Amos

Opening: Friday 12/7/2019 at 11:00

Gallery talk: Friday 2/8/2019 at  11:00

Closing: Saturday , 3/9/2019 at 19:00

The series of tiles made by Elina Itan invite the viewer to an intimate look at a moment in the creative process of the artist, frozen in time. The format of the tile with its specific dimensions was selected carefully. She frames sections of clay and information and through this shares her feelings how materials such as plaster and porcelain feel to the touch of the hand.  The creative process varies between the spontaneous and serendipitous, one-off as opposed to planned calculated control. 

Plaster is the material that enables her to achieve her goal and she is a familiar with its characteristics and knows how to control it at all stages. With a combination of experience and intuition she pulls a metal mesh through the solidifying plaster.  Through this spontaneous movement of body and soul, a meditative move between herself and the material, she transfers the flow of energy until it is frozen in material and time. 

The creative process is free and is repeated several times until the texture of the movement and the physicality of the material satisfies her.  Material has power but she decides the extent of her intervention in this force; will it be dramatic or minimalist. There is magic in this physical, spiritual act referring to creation, creation of rich and sensitive surface, the embodiment of encapsulated geological landscapes that are universal and vast. This is perhaps like photography capturing in the lens a dramatic moment that occurred in nature which will convey the huge energy that was and has dissipated. 

The next phase is different, it is planned, calculated and exact. The powerful fragments she has created become geometrically engineered in a framed construction, as if to tame the wild, the fixation of the temporary. Itan is in awe of the power of nature and her work is a human act that expresses her desire to capture and preserve a piece of it.   She works in series making several casts of that single movement. These become wall tiles that are made in a long process of ceramic technological exploration of materials and firings.

This is followed by coloring and glazing. Once again, she returns to the spontaneous and intuitive, considering each tile individually and making decisions about the surface to translate nature and materials.  Her inspiration comes from meeting point between architecture, nature and design. When traveling she is drawn to places with wild natural landscape and primal topography as well as monumental architecture that is manmade.  Bridges and buildings protruding as a foreign object from landscape have made an impression on her and she works within the parameters of calculated and wild, natural and engineered.  

Even though the surface of the tile is smooth, the final look is grainy, sandy and rough and the color of each object is unique as a result of the layering of sprayed colors, a process that requires control but leaves place for freedom.  The result is texture of color with fine nuances emphasizing the topography and the light and shade. There are no two objects the same even though the making process is one of duplication and each tile is unique but part of a series.

Elina Itan confronts the conflict/challenge of artists working with clay – how to express the freshness and plasticity of clay once it has dried and been fired.  She does this by incorporating flow and movement in her work between the polarity of soft and hard, spontaneous and planned, expected and chance.

Another series of work shown in the exhibition are the cushion shaped tiles.  Their surfaces are smooth, and the flow is expressed in the glazed. Itan has developed glazes that melt and drip to a critical point.  The pattern is blurred in the flow and is reminiscent of Indonesian fabrics IKAT and dialogue with well-known works from ceramic history – the three sancai glazes used in the Tang dynasty as well as the works of Jun Kaneko. Once again, the feeling of freezing a moment of movement and the tension between control and release.  Itan extends the boundaries and this time the synergy is between herself and the kiln and in the firing creates impressive surfaces with new patterns.

The personal biography of Elina Itan sheds light and gives another perspective on the forging and forming of her artistic concepts.  Elina was born in Russia in 1977 and was educated from a young age in drawing and realistic figurative sculpture until the age of 18 when she emigrated to Israel.  At the age of 20 she was accepted to the Ceramic Art and Design department at Bezalel and was faced with a new Western approach to studying art, an approach that was diametrically different from what she had learned.  Her first degree she completed while adapting to her new environment and the complex Israeli culture. She graduated with honors in 2001 and in 2004 was accepted to a master’s program in New Paltz, New York, another move to a new country, a sharp contrast to her past and again the necessity to adapt to a new culture and environment. She was successful once again and while studying became an assistant to the first-degree students and the artist Mary Ray who was the head of her department. Upon completing her degree, she was accepted to specialize in Port Chester New York.  In 2008 she returned to Israel and set up a studio in Hadera and began teaching at Avni and the Benyamini Center. Her journey between countries and cultures in a short period of time at such a young age has certainly formed her character and left its mark with a strong will and focus on the targets she sets herself. It appears that in the choices she has made there is a correlation with her work, an ability to find the flow, the expression of freedom in her art and creativity. 

Elina chose the single word Flow as the name of her exhibition. This word precisely expresses the entire story. It appears in three languages: Russian, Hebrew and English and emphasizes the source and the route.   The artist is the body of work, the personal handwriting engraved in his being like wrinkles in one’s skin. Looking at the body of work that Elina exhibits one can read her character. She is a creative woman, serious and calculated like a suspension bridge in the changing landscape formed by life circumstances.  And at the same time, she is gentle, flowing and in search of her way like endless running water over a porous stone smoothing the surface.

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