Fire and Water: brilliant experiments a la Meir Salomon

Article written by curator and art critic Miri Krymolowski: "Fire and Water: brilliant experiments a la Meir Salomon".

Meir Salomon's corpus of works on paper of water and fire is a world apart from most art of his creation. It seems that in this series of works the protruding principle is that of the investigative artist, the architect, the one who wishes to establish a unique statement. Each and every work of art is one and only; yet, they all travel in the familiar space between the two and three dimensional.

In his works on paper, Salomon preeminently wishes to create an association of the pictorial and sculptural, of the line and the colour, of the premeditated and the random, of the human handwriting and that of nature.

Salomon uses a plain white paper, Tabula Rasa, wetting it with water and drawing on it, without a pigment, out of the sheer desire to shape the paper into form, creating a relief with the use of the brush. Thus, the brush and the water create paper waves and a soft relief is formed. A "sculpture" is born of a mutual collaboration between human handwriting and that of nature.

Salomon's desire to create a sense of a true sculpture, guide him to work with heavy paper. The simple waves suddenly form geometrical shapes – circle, parallels, and lines forming a triangle.

Fire & Water Drawing by Meir Salomon
fire and water drawing by Meir Salomon

Concurrently with this series (the early 90s), Salomon began to work on a series with fire as the draftsman. Salomon inscribes scorched outlines on a white virgin paper. He scorches lines, circles, shapes with unclear boundaries, as if they are peeping slits to what resides beyond. The manifestation is random – however, a second look unfolds what seems to be a personal handwriting, a rather intricate one. At times the scorching is deeper and seems to consume the paper entirely.

The two series of works were made at the time when Salomon lived and worked in the Netherlands. Following his immigration to Israel, he finds himself in his Tel Aviv studio, bringing together fire and water, the constructed and the destroyed, the real and the unreal.

The paper is covered with pigments; at first earth colours and varied ochres are used, then blue and grey become the dominant forces, joined by the green, purple and even pink. With an intension, or without one, the blue colour works with the dividing line and the big circle appear as the sea, the sky, the horizon and a sun in zenith.

Salomon inscribes scorched outlines on a white virgin paper. He scorches lines, circles, shapes with unclear boundaries, as if they are peeping slits to what resides beyond.

Josef Albers, one of the prominent abstract expressionism artists, in his Homage to a Square, found that the existence of a square is without a doubt dependant on its colour, and the colours surrounding it. The square, is the same one, his colour is the same as well, yet, what about the colours surrounding it? And what about its size? All these reciprocations cause the same square to be perceived quite differently.

The visual experience of the work is completely altered each time Salomon paints his paper using a different colour, positions differently his lines, and forms a different reciprocation apparatus between the line and the circle.

Above the pigmented, sculptured bedding, Salomon has begun to scorch and create outlines with the burned fire lines. The forms created are minimal, and do not form a figurative coherent and designed image, but rather a line slowly creating the most basic geometric forms – straight lines, parallels and mostly circles.

The water and fire works, and especially the use of water and earth colours, are evidently associated to Kabbalah. The manifold use of the circle shape, as much as the sensation that the works engage in construction and destruction – and create something new out of the void – all these are associated with obvious existential issues. 

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