Showcasing complex and often incomprehensive forms, Roy Mordechay (b. 1976) has developed a puzzling iconography expressed by different mediums, such as paintings, sculptures or installations. His paintings employ schematic compositions that team up with both inscrutably recognisable forms and rather simple ones; all beautifully balanced in an abstract imagery. His work might be viewed either as a playful surreal landscape or a carefully structured subconscious articulation inspired by the artist’s mind. Most of Mordechay’s canvases are coloured with an elegantly pale beige or peachy colour on the background. The painting’s surface is not equally monochromatic, but rather dominated by patchy hints that fade away. Attention is also given to biomorphic forms that construct his style. For example, a wide range of amorphous shapes painted in dynamic brushstrokes are intermingling with other lines as well as smaller or larger forms. Bolder depictions coexist with very lean or even whimsical figures, while various other contradictions identify his work. Mordechay uses techniques reminiscent of naïve art that remarkably connect the artist’s memories with deeper cultural symbols, whereas the manifold images seem to reflect his free-flowing thoughts that turn to engrave additional enigmatic dimensions.
Words: Yannis Kostarias
By observing the Israeli artist’s work it is apparent that space matters a lot in his paintings. The development of his narrative is achieved by well controlled scenes where the abstract configurations are fairly analysed. The idea of sparseness is quite distinctive in Mordechay’s work. Empty spaces are not only creatively aligned with the artist’s uncanny schemata, but also function in a supportive way managing to increase the artwork’s tension. Taking into account these shapes, Mordechay unfolds an energetic art method underlying the importance of the placement of the geometric arrangements and allowing the viewer’s eye to have a glimpse into the artist’s endless subconscious.
Mordechay seems to experiment hard abstract visualizations exercising his abstract aesthetics and emphasizing on his ability to create eerie art forms. More digestible shapes often advance the painting’s refinement and let the final interpretation to bridge potential obscurities. Real images perceived by the artist are converted into unreal depictions for the viewer’s eyes and a spoiled game between chaotic reality and the unnatural world interestingly stands out. Paintings such as the Metoda, 2018, or Let it go, 2018, present noticeable abstract features of his uncompromising painting style. On the other hand, in paintings like Remote Associations, 2018, and Two Spoons of Sugar, 2018, a more fruitful atmosphere is underlined through a range of seemingly homogeneous elements and sympathetic formats. Thus in the latter works, there are such imaginative attributes that could even reflect distinctive abstract constellations of Joan Miro.
Born in 1976 in Haifa, Israel, Roy Mordechay works and lives between Düsseldorf and Tel-Aviv. In 2002, he completed his Art Studies at the Avni Institute of Art and Design, Tel-Aviv, and then attended the School of New Media, in Musrara, Jerusalem. Mordechay has been the recipient of many grants and awards, including from the Pais Grant of the Israel Lottery Council for Culture and Art, the Yehoshua Rabinowitz Foundation for the Arts in Tel Aviv, and the International Grant Program of the Lepsien Art Foundation in Düsseldorf, Germany. His work has been exhibited extensively in Israel and Germany as well as the United Kingdom and Spain in art galleries and museums, such as the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, the Nir Altman gallery in Munich, the Feldbusch-Wiesner Galerie in Berlin, the Felix Ringel Galerie in Düsseldorf, and the Petach-Tikva Museum of Art. His latest exhibition Small Fishes in Their Vases will be taking place in February 2019 at the José de la Fuente gallery in Spain.
Art Verge: Can you tell us about the process of making your work?
Roy Mordechay: It is a very playful and intuitive one. Mostly in my daily practice, I use different images, memories and studio process leftover materials that I collect and which deeply caught my attention, then I’m doing sketches trying to figure out what survived in my head. It’s like getting into the core of it, the essence. Then I’m creating traps to myself in order to create an environment that allowing me to get into a non-verbal location/a void. It creates a moment that I couldn’t consciously plan, which is a total surprising one, Like an alternative narration, almost like it’s not me that did it. It’s like playing cards with the painting, I’m making an action and it returns with one.
AV: How would you define your work in a few words (ideally in 3 words)?
RM: Fragile, Locomotion, Human.
AV: Can you name any artists you, lately or generally, take inspiration from?
RM: Kai Althoff, David Hockney, Philip Guston, Yitzhak Golombek, Francesco Clemente, Bill Taylor, Giotto, Paul Klee and many more great ones.
AV: As an emerging artist, which is the need for an inter-disciplinary approach in your work? From paintings, installations to kinetic sculptures, could you describe it as a more thorough or even challenging way to explore the idea of creativity in your shows?
RM: I guess it’s about my temperament, I like to see it all as a dynamic movement that fertilizes one another and also constantly challenging the medium borders. For me it’s about breaking defaults. Taking into account the involvement of various mediums in your artistry is materiality important to your work or alternatively is it a fostering idea that drives you to build up a new body of work? It allows me to work remotely on different mediums waiting for the moment in the process that will connect it all to a coherent setting, one which wasn’t born from a preplanning concept, but allowing it to just happen.
AV: What about the place where you work? What’s your studio space like, and how does it affect your process?
RM: Tremendously. My studio is an extension of my body, it’s a reflection of my habits. So for example, when it got larger and higher, my works got bigger.
AV: Which exhibition did you visit last?
RM: I’m now in a homeland vacation in Tel-Aviv. So I was in the Tel-Aviv Museum of Art seeing some great exhibitions there, especially the one of Yitzhak Golombek.
AV: What do you hope audiences will take from your work?
RM: I hope they would play cards with it as well, That it could touch them or trigger something from their own biography.
AV: What does your mum think about your art?
RM: Actually she started painting herself some years ago. So we find ourselves talking a lot about the making process of art. She loves my works unconditionally obviously 🙂
AV: Are you a morning person or a night owl?
RM: Morning person.
AV: Which are your plans for the near future?
RM: My next solo exhibition will be my first one in Spain in the coming February. Stay tuned!
© All images are courtesy of the artist