Jonathan Ofek, born in Jerusalem, 1973, studied ceramic design in Bezalel and visual art in Haifa University. In the past fifteen years he exhibited in many solo and group shows. Ofek has won number of prizes and he is a founding member of Hanina gallery in Tel Aviv.
Ofek was raised amongst the most prominent Israeli artists. Traditions of sculpturing and painting were passed on to him by his late father, the artist Avraham Ofek and by the artist, the late Moshe Shek, Ofek's mentor. Following his military service, Ofek began studying at Bezalel. A year later, though, he has decided to forgo his studies to become a shepherd in the Negev. He also studied various traditional arts such as pottery, blacksmithing, carpentry and metal sculpturing. Five years later he went back to studying art and was running a pottery workshop, teaching art and gaining expertise in various techniques such as working with copper, bronze casting and different printing methods.
Ofek's work is influenced by our primal fathers, the primordial rock painters and their kinsmen the shepherds, farmers, carpenters and stonemasons. Ofek's linkage to the art of ancient past is an added layer to the consistent and continuous discourse he has been having with 20th century European art as well as with local Israeli art.
The exhibition Ascents introduces sculptures and paintings that Ofek created in the last two years, and focuses on golden figurines of sacrificed animals and scarification. Composition, flat characters and golden background in Ofek's paintings serve to connect the materialistic with the spiritual while consciously avoiding any realistic representation. Ofek does not wish to pursue the characteristics of the animal nor to represent its image, but to use them to express a concept and an idea.
A documentary film that follows Ofek's first origins of inspiration as an artist will be screened alongside his work. In the film, Ofek returns to Mitzpe Azuz, where he was exposed to pre historic rock paintings while shepherding his herd.
Responding to Ofek's work wrote the author Dror Burstein in the exhibitions catalogue:
The passion to return to caves, to be near stone, to paste blood on walls, to paint and hunt the beast, to freeze, to warm oneself at the fire, to grip a hand-axe, and at the very least—to be a Byzantine icon-painter, sitting on the outskirts of Constantinople, in a monk’s chamber, contemplating the open plains and the volcanoes of Cappadocia, bread and water like hill and sea, flattening gold leaf by candlelight.
gallery talk with Jonathan Ofek, Dror Burstein & Jonathan Hirshfeld
Thursday, 16.8 at 8pm