Languages of Environment, Paris 2019
Avi Sperber Sculpts the Environment
Avi Sperber is an Israeli stone sculptor active internationally. In his professional life he is a transportation engineer who designs roads.
The concept of “mapping” in Avi Sperber’s dual role as engineer and artist acquires a special meaning both in his treatment of the physical environment in which he works and in the use of the massive natural materials in his sculptures.
In the introduction to his exhibition “Direction West”, which was shown a decade ago at the prestigious Stern Gallery in Tel Aviv, I wrote that “there is a special meaning to the location of Sperber’s sculptures in the public space. Avi Sperber, who is a transportation engineer, is well aware of the function of the place and the substance of the space in which we move and work”. The subjects of space have changed unrecognizably in the third millennium. The reading of space has changed – as part of the reading of physical and virtual reality which has become more complex and now contains multiple connective and dimensional spaces. According to the philosopher Michel Foucault, “Western thought has changed from organization along an axis of time to organization along an axis of space. The axis of time is important in constructing reality, but we live in the age of simultaneity, in a world with less of a full life developing over time and more in a network connecting nodes and crossing its threads”. This gives a particular emphasis to Avi Sperber’s earthly, physical work, to his artistic insistence on dealing with the “visible” and “corporeal”, in stone that can be touched, but at the same time in the greater meaning of stone as groundbreaking, in the natural material, which symbolizes eternity and a transition to that which is beyond time.
The current exhibition in Paris is about the translation of spatial mapping. Two-dimensional drawings of urban intersections that Avi Sperber worked on as an engineer, or maps of famous sites in the world’s major intersections, have been turned into three-dimensional stone sculptures, thus creating a new language. The formal road drawings that appear in every cellphone in the age of digitization, Waze and GPS, were an inspiration to Avi Sperber and have become hieroglyphs of a new language describing our time.
All the sculptures are made of natural stone, from which Avi Sperber skillfully removes the unneeded parts. The exhibition shows symbolic stone sculptures which showcase the artist’s skill, as well as photos of the actual sculptures and a series of map drawings which inspired the artists.
Doron Pollak / Curator