The flood 2006

Some comments on experiencing a formidable drawing/ Jan van der Pol

 

Ron Amir has made a drawing which not only attracts attention by its

absolutely formidable size; its size is actually not of prime importance. What

is immediately obvious is that the content of the drawing sweeps one off

one’s feet. It shows us a world where humanity has been reduced to a

freshly ploughed field; and not only this touches raw nerves. It more or less

sweeps away your reason for existing. But is this the intrinsic significance of

the work?

 

A rather spontaneous preface – so a short introduction is asked for here:

Ron Amir, born in 1975 in Tel Aviv, Israel, studied art-restoration in Tivoli,

Italy, followed by  a  visual arts (painting)  study at the Academy of Rome.

He moved to The Netherlands and completed his studies at the Royal

Academy of Art in The Hague in 2005 (faculty of visual arts, painting

department). His examination presentation consisted of large-format

drawings and a set of etchings. Under auspices of the KABK (the Royal

Academy of Art, The Hague) he consequently worked for a year in a special

programme making the above-mentioned drawing and another series of

etchings.

 

The enormous drawing reveals an avalanche of images. Images of diverse

origins – people, half-people, dogs and parts of dogs, disintegrating cars

from which people, whole or in parts, come tumbling, the cars and the people

sometimes resembling weird fish rather than anything else. Fish-innards,

tables holding all sorts of items such as the small pyramid with number 11 on

it, artist’s tools, flower-vases, computers, a table-lamp, an owl, a crucifix –

all of these joined by planks and ladders as well as amazing and flotsam-like

constructions, between and wherein all this takes place,  with or without

flowerbeds, etc., etc. And in amongst it all, people, individuals, attempt to

stay on their feet and are united by a long table.  These people display a

certain solemnity and dignity and form, as it were, an island of hope in an

environment where it is hard to breathe and where not a beam of light can

be discerned; subsequently organized in such a way that all these elements

achieve a particularly compact structure resulting in an unusual totality of

expression.

 

The sensation of being immersed in this insanity is not immediately a

pleasant one as it is no Arcadian world which is presented here; on the

contrary, it is more like a Dantesque hell.

A hell which brings to mind the paintings and prints by Pieter Breugel the

elder – such as the “Dulle Griet” in Museum Mayer van de Bergh in Antwerp,

or “Triumph of the dead” in the Prado.

 

The world sketched by Ron Amir is our world, no doubt about that. It is the

history of the 20th century which echoes through in innumerable events and

in the destinies of hundreds of millions of people. The rumbling and echoing

continues. The events and atrocities which took place originated for the main

part in our own minds and, consequently, once again, lead to the

circumstances to be seen and read on television, in newspapers and

magazines today.  I see Ron Amir’s work as set against this context.

 

But, the great attention paid to the total discourse which this work presents,

as well as the ingenuity in the structure of the composition, definitely does

bring about a feeling of consolation in the beholder. The meticulous manner

in which it has been carried out becomes a symbol for the homage to

humanity – however precarious this existence may be or be felt. And with

that and through that,  this work, with its ominous emanation , is

indisputably  a contribution to the series of questions concerning the quality

of our existence, questions  that humanity must ask itself – without raising a

moralistic finger or making propaganda for a particular political idea. This is

no mean achievement.