Artists House TLV
Monochrome: The Draftsman
Miriam Gamburd, a leading artist who engages in drawing, invited selected students to exhibit their works
alongside her own and those of her father, Moisey Gamburd (1903–1954), who was a master draftsman.
Artist: Moisey Gamburd | Alex Broitman | Tsuki Gabrian | Miriam Gamburd
Oren Markovitz | Iddo Markus | Noam Omer | Rani Pardes | Yair Perez
Assaf Rahat | Sigal Tsabari | Shahar Yahalom | Artur Yakobov
Arie Berkowitz – curator
Exhibition: 18. February – 13. March 2021
Opening hours: Sunday-Thursday 10 – 13, 17-19 Friday 10 – 13 / Saturday 11 – 14
Elkharizi St 9, Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel
Monochrome: The Draftsman
Arie Berkowitz, curator of the exhibition, in conversation with to Miriam Gamburd
Arie Berkowitz: What do the project participants have in common?
Miriam Gamburd: My former students are now my colleagues. What we have in common is our approach to drawing – not only the initial or intermediate phase, but also drawing as the “finished product” of the artistic process. Something else we have in common, no less important, is our love for drawing that unites us.
A.B.: The exhibition also includes drawings by your father, Moisey Gamburd. Is there a connection between him and your students?
M.G.: Absolutely. I take fundamental elements from his drawing, on which I build my teaching doctrine. This is how a local, indigenous tradition is formed. Some of my father’s most important drawings (now in the collection of the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow), were created while he was in Palestine in the 1930s. Apart from considerable knowledge, they have distinct sublime qualities. Emotion and talent cannot be taught. They can only be developed and fine-tuned. Culture and tradition, on the other hand, can certainly be imparted.
A.B.: The origin of the term “tradition” in Hebrew is in religion… Contemporary art strives for constant renewal, and Israeli art regards itself as an integral part of the process. It values avant-garde much more than tradition, for avant-garde rejects tradition.
M.G.: There’s an assertion made by Jacques Derrida, which I like. Instead of a conflict between tradition and the avant-garde, he proposes coexistence. This is a wonderful idea, but the avant-garde has won the battle, and one should not expect the winning revolutionary ideology to show mercy towards the loser. Revolutionary movements evoke affection up to the point where they seize power, and then, they soon become tyrannical. Concepts such as “retro avant-garde” and “pseudo avant-garde” have emerged in critical discourse. In his new book on drawing, Romance with a Pencil, my friend, artist Sasha Okun, writes: “Drawing is an opposition, a romantic anachronism of sorts… It is a cultural symbol, a chain dating back thousands of years that must not to be broken.
A.B.: Tradition demands discipline. How is this congruent with creative freedom?
M.G.: Great art never demanded freedom of expression, because, one may assume, it took it by itself. The sacred freedom of expression, liberty… Many generations have fought for the liberation of art from various ideologies, only to lead it eventually into the trap of auctions and big money. Regarding discipline, Igor Stravinsky, one of the most influential and innovative composers of the 20th century, said that following given sheet music does not limit the musician; quite the opposite, it is a precondition for a virtuoso performance. For me, tradition is a constant dialogue with the great masters. I like to consult with Félicien Rops, Honoré Daumier, and Aubrey Beardsley; they often answer my questions. The constant living discourse with great colleagues from the past is similar, in my mind, to the dialogue of the Jewish Amoraic sages of the Talmud with the Tana’im – Jewish sages of the Mishnaic period, who preceded them. Drawing as a genre is an extra-temporal phenomenon. In other words, there is no early and late in drawing. The animal depictions by prehistoric man in the Cave of Altamira in Spain are not inferior to Picasso’s bull drawings.
A.B.: Do you think drawing does not acknowledge progress?
M.G.: The clearly positive connotation associated with the concept of “progress” has lost ground. I would say that drawing is not controlled by progress. It won’t find its place in state-of-the-art digital technologies. After all, without the artist’s touch, it cannot exist. My students probably have a different view.
Miriam Gamburd: I have been blessed with a valuable bequest handed down to us by draftsmen throughout the generations. The cache is in my possession. Will I waste it, expand it, or treasure it?
Oren Markovitz: Painting is like boxing with gloves. Drawing, on the other hand, is boxing with bare knuckles.
Tsuki Garbian: The series was inspired by X-rays of masterpieces. The X-ray removes the painting’s epidermis, the glossy glasslike surface, and reveals the truth beneath, the painting’s skeleton, the artist’s stammering and hesitation.
Sigal Tsabari: The pencil drawings of plants collect multiple temporalities and incarnations of growth; they are a journey of ongoing discovery. During the evolution of the drawing, I look for a skeleton, the spine of a stem or a branch, or the movement of plants, which allows me to move freely with the nature’s transformations. Perhaps it is actually a musical thought, signaling when to stop.
Yair Perez: Drawing is the constant search for the way. I follow the line.
Alex Broitman: Today, figurative art has switched places with conceptual art. The figurative marches on, enriched by the conceptual experience.
Artur Yakobov: Drawing is like strumming the strings of the soul.
Noam Omer: I perceive drawing as a relief, a one-directional monochromatic sculpture. When I say sculpture, I refer to the texture and lighting of the drawing, which make it such, whether rendered in ink, charcoal, or pencil. Texture, lighting and monochrome are, to me, the real meanings of drawing.
Assaf Rahat: When I draw the homeless, I am aware of the danger: I do not want to take their modesty away or appropriate their souls.
Rani Pardes: I use monochrome as a metaphor for reality. The carving noise and the scratch of the spur thorn on the board.
Shahar Yahalom: Drawing is an exposed nerve, bruised by regrets. Its transparency stems, among others, from the medium’s inability to carry layers of concealment and erasure.
Iddo Markus: The unknown is greater than the known, as happens in drawing.
Moisey Gamburd (1903–1954), The Call to Arms, 1928, oil on canvas, 250×400, whereabouts unknown
Graduation project from the Brussels Royal Academy of Fine Arts under the guidance of Prof. Constant Montald
The work was stolen by the Nazis when they withdrew from Soviet territory in 1944. It has not been found, and is known only from a monochrome photograph.
Moisey (Max) Gamburd (1903–1954), one of the leading artists of the classic Moldavian art tradition, and his wife Eugenia (née Goldenberg, 1913–1956), a talented painter as well as theater and film artist, were born in Bessarabia (which became Moldova after its annexation by the Soviet Union in 1940). Moisey and Eugenia first studied drawing and painting at the Chisinau School of Arts. Moisey continued his training at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels (1925–1930), where he studied under the Belgian Symbolist painter Constant Montald (1862–1944). Eugenia completed her education at the Academy of Arts in Bucharest (1934–1936), where she was taught by the distinguished Romanian post-Impressionist artist Jean Alexandru Steriadi (1880–1956).
Works by Moisey and Eugenia were exhibited in art galleries and museums in Chisinau and Bucharest. In 1993, the National Art Museum of Moldova organized a retrospective of works by Moisey Gamburd on the occasion of his 90th birthday, and in 2003 the National Art Museum of Moldova held a joint retrospective of the work of Moisey and Eugenia Gamburd. In 1984, Moisey Gamburd’s drawings were exhibited at the Nora Gallery in Jerusalem. The art critic Meir Ronen wrote that Gamburd’s drawings “are positively breathtaking” and “show him to be a veritable master in the modern academic tradition, a master of depiction of character and volumetric monumentality.”
Works by Moisey and Eugenia Gamburd are in the collections of the National Art Museum of Moldova and the National Archive of Moldova in Chisinau, the National Art Museum of Romania in Bucharest, the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow and in private collections around the world.