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I Must Create, Says Kinetic Artist Yaacov Agam

World-renowned kinetic artist, Yaacov Agam, pioneered a new art form which stresses change and movement. Yaacov Agam has been a member of the Park West Gallery family of artists for over 30 years.
Selections from the Park West Gallery – Agam Collection >>
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Yaacov Agam. Fountain in Dizengof square.

Eating from the Tree of Knowledge
By ELLIE ARMON AZOULAY • Haaretz.com | October 18, 2009

Moving slowly and wearing a rather tattered jacket and worn hat, Yaacov Agam arrives for our meeting pulling a valise on wheels. Its contents cover his professional life over more than 60 years.

Agam is 81. Just about everyone in Israel knows who Yaacov Agam is – a pioneer of kinetic art here and abroad. He is the man behind the unique and notorious fountain in Dizengoff Square (1986); he developed a display technique using perspective known as an Agamograph; a writing method known as Agamilim, where changing one letter changes the entire word; curricula for visual education and more.

All of these are the visual representation of the two predominant concepts that have occupied Agam since his childhood: movement and time. Time, he says, “is always new, is impossible to recreate and unexpected.” He connects and associates both specifically to Jewish culture and experience.

He has presented at numerous exhibitions at the world’s biggest institutions, including a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris and at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (1973) and another retrospective at the Guggenheim in New York (1980). In 1963, at the Sao Paulo Biennale, he won the first prize of its kind for artistic research. He displayed his works at the Elysee Palace in Paris in 1972 at the invitation of then prime minister Georges Pompidou and there’s a musical fountain by Agam in the French capital’s La Defense quarter.

This year, he exhibited in Paris and Basel his mirror-based work, Beyond the Reality, as well as displaying a new work at the entrance to the World Games stadium in Taiwan.

The three projects he is now working on are a huge public building in downtown Taipei in the style of the Dan Hotel and the Neeman Towers he designed in northern Tel Aviv; a large exhibition, also in Taiwan, in collaboration with the Israeli representation there; and an exhibition to be shown in Pontoise, outside Paris. And he also recently designed a page for the Google Chrome browser.

From his first works in Paris to his most recent one, Agam has been studying perspective and the infinite. He creates using the different shades of colors, their composition and graphic forms, painting and sculpting with infinite perspectives. The challenge for Agam is that at any point where the viewer stands, he will see something completely new. The work changes as long as the viewer circles it.

In the catalog for his first solo exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum in the early 1970s, he defined it this way: “In the Jewish perception, time and reality have been intertwined since the story of Creation, in which Adam discovered, while eating from the Tree of Knowledge death, along with reality, that is, the element of time.”

“Just like you breathe, I create,” he says. “I must create; that is Judaism. It is essentially a way of life: Judaism is art. In order to be Jewish, you have to create. Because man was created in the image of God, he is not a monkey, he is not an animal.”

For a moment it seems Agam himself has turned into one of his kinetic works; he is in constant motion, and does not stop presenting his artistic creations…

Read the full article at Haaretz.com >>
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