Dr. Rita E. Tauber
Seven-up Janco Dada Museum, Ein-Hod 2001 Israel
For the Israeli Abi Shek this cultural transfer has a special significance, as might be expected considering that he will be returning to exhibit in a country which he left some ten years ago and whose history still influences his artistic work to this day. But this history is not that of modern-day Israeli society or of the Jewish culture that underlies it. Abi Shek's interests go further back, into the distant past, when social, cultural and religious boundaries still lay in the future. His childhood in Bet-Nir gave him an adventurous archaeological fascination with underground journeying to discover the early history of Mankind, where what we find in the field of speculation can ultimately tell us only about itself and brings about an irritatingly uniform canon of forms even in the most far-flung places of the world; this forms the association-rich background to his Woodcuts, drawings and metal objects. Whilst initially appearing to have a story to tell - you seem to recognise animals and tools - these works prove to be puzzlingly archetypal and unadorned. compare to ancient images, they do not seem redolent of the urge to communicate. What appears to be a system of meaningful symbols is formulated in a cipher-alphabet susceptible of both familiarity and alienation. Abi Shek is not concerned with the simple reconstruction of a vocabulary of archaic forms, or the recreation of prehistoric implements or images which do not give away their meaning and purpose, but with an act of inventing forms with the awareness of a cultural origin common to all. It is the sense of the inexplicable that surrounds ancient images and tools in their ambiguity that Abi Shek is recreating and referring to in the apparent objectivity of his pictures and objects. Pictures which not only keep alive the memory of ancestral energies but also point to the artistically-fruitful consequences of the apparently useless leftovers of society's superabundance.