Painting of the Day

21 Jan

The Silver Platter (Magash Hakesef)by Uzi Silber (born at some point in 1960’s). Acrylic on canvas, 2011. Currently in private collection.

Notes that I compiled from various sources to research the series of paintings from which The Silver Platter comes:

  • There is an “Ozymandias” sort of idea behind Uzi Silber’s artwork: all the things that humans accomplish in their lifetime, no matter how grand or influential, will eventually become forgotten.
    • Quote from Uzi Silber: “All our empires, all the nations, have come and gone. These massive, incredible leaders who all thought they were incredibly important, they’re nothing. Nobody remembers anything,” says artist Uzi Silber. “Look at the Soviet Empire. They built the largest country in the world, ever. Within 70 years, it turned to dust.”
    • Silber sprinkles references to both past and current pop-culture phenomena throughout his work to point out their inevitable decay: he gathers past cultural icons and presents them in a revitalized, “timeless” manner in his art, revealing their aesthetic potential and examining how we as viewers react to them now versus the significance they had in their era
      • Silber: “I think of our long trail of making and disappearing into dust in the wind as a pageant of the absurd.”
      • Influenced by his job at an insurance company, where he often heard meaningless platitudes in staff meetings; some of the phrases tossed around in those meetings are included in his paintings
        • “A lot of the sayings are words said at the meetings. They are said with such importance, but it’s really all a lot of crap, a lot of PowerPoint presentations with lots of colors and arrows. They’re hilarious.”
        • Inspirations, according to Hartford Courant article:
          • Rabbinical saying The day is short but the work is plenty. “We take ourselves very seriously, when there is not much to take seriously. We need to be a little bit less serious,” he says. “We’re not here for long. We might as well have a good time when here and do something useful, or at least try.”
          • Garbage dumps: “Going to garbage dumps is a great source of history,” he says. “A sub-theme of my work is ‘today’s garbage dump is tomorrow’s archaeological excavation.’ … Garbage dumps tell us everything about the way people live now.”
            • Speaks to the truth that while archaeology is a serious discipline that many people prize, all it really involves is scouring the refuse of past civilizations (reinforces Silber’s claim that we take ourselves too seriously)

My comments:

One of my tasks during my intern week at the Gershman Y was to research Uzi Silber, who approached Miriam Seidel (the curator of the Gershman Y whom I worked for as an intern) to ask if he could have a show at the Gershman Y. She wanted me to research the inspiration behind his work to learn more about it and, presumably, see if it was interesting enough to warrant a show. Based on what I found, I would say that Silber’s paintings are more than interesting enough to be worth an exhibition at the Gershman Y. What’s mysterious to me about his current series of work is that even though I now know what his paintings are supposed to “mean,” I still find it hard to see this in his paintings, to deductively find the details in the paintings that match their overall meaning. Nevertheless, from a purely aesthetic perspective I love the painting above in particular, with the way Silber mixes the vibrant colors in a unique way that makes them not completely blended but not completely separated either. Somehow, Silber also managed to use the paint in a way that makes the painting very reminiscent of urban wall murals that I’ve seen before. 

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