Tevet’s language of archetypal forms resembling objects of everyday use – books, boxes, tables, chairs, beds, boats – possesses multiple meanings through which he asks various questions. His colorful constructions, which change as the viewer moves through the installation, form the foundation for structures that we are incapable of reading as a whole. The aforementioned archetypal forms combine to produce mysterious and restless places filled with multiple meanings and references. One such example is his largest sculpture to date, Seven Walks – a remarkable work created in 1997–2004 that was last exhibited at Munich’s Villa Stuck in late 2017 and early 2018.
“Nahum Tevet – Five Rooms”
– October 7
Gallery of Contemporary Art and Architecture – House of Art of the City of České Budějovice
náměstí Přemysla Otakara II. 38, České Budějovice
Nahum Tevet was born in 1946 in Kibbutz Messiolt, Israel. In 1980–2013, he was a professor at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem, where he was the head of the Master´s Degree of Fine Arts program during 2001–2010. In his early creations, Tevet worked with and explored conceptual, minimalist, and later also constructivist tendencies in art. He worked with ordinary materials that he saw as best suited for the works he was making at the time and that also reveal a certain inclination towards the representatives of “poor art” (Arte Povera). Even during this early stage of his career, his work was characterized by a distinctive style possessing a certain dose of playfulness and deeper meanings touching on existential questions and relationships related to the state of development of society.
Over time, the medium of painting and the history of art became important elements in Tevet’s work that paved the way for the painterly / sculptural installations that formed the basis for the kind of works he has been creating ever since. Nahum Tevet has held numerous exhibitions at important galleries, museums, and art events throughout the world. A brief sampling includes documenta 8 (Kassel, 1987), The Carnegie International 1999 and the biennials in São Paulo (1994), Lyon (1997), and Venice (2003), as well as solo shows in Museum Ludwig in Vienna (1997), The Israel Museum,Jerusalem(2007) MACRO, Rome (2008),Kunstmuseum Bochum (2015), and Museum Sztuki Lodz (2017), and most recently at the Kristof De Clercq Gallery in Ghent, Belgium. Tevet’s works can also be found in many public and private collections such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Portland Museum of Art, Vienna’s MUMOK, the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum in Krefeld, Frac Bretagne, and museums in Tel Aviv in Jerusalem.
With Five Rooms, the České Budějovice House of Art presents a small-scale yet representative look at Tevet’s work. The first part of the exhibition is the installation For One Room (2018), Tevet’s most recent work created especially for this exhibition. It is a medium size work compared to the many large sculptural installations with a complex structure that Tevet has created over the past twenty years, which however does not mean that it has anything less to say. Tevet himself says of this work:
“As with all my other works after 1980, I made no plan or preparatory drawings for For One Room (2018). It was developed organically, step by step, by intuition, more like a child building a world.
No element was built or painted to fit any specifically planned place; I have a sort of ‘production line’ in my studio where objects are built or painted in series, like in a carpentry or painter’s workshop. They are like artificial (useless) ‘ready-mades’ waiting to find a place for themselves in this work or to be left aside. There are many of them produced during the years and then accumulated on shelves as in a library or archive, so that I may potentially ‘find’ them in the process of making this work or another, future piece – sometimes many years later.
The ‘participating’ elements (the ‘building blocks’) are of different shapes and of a different scale. Some seem to be of a ‘normal’ everyday size, while others are like miniatures. This is one of the devices that make it an unstable space. Unlike many larger installations of mine, this one is almost transparent. It unfolds in front of the viewer so that one can almost get an overall view of it. However, there is no way one can see it all at once. I wanted to prevent the viewers from gaining any possessive power; I wanted them to actively ‘scan’ the work and wander around, ‘reading’ what is in front of them, taking their time, and not to offer any preferred point of view.”
The second part of the exhibition consists of a significant early architectural drawing installation Eight Times Six, (For Two Rooms) 1977, originally created for the Sara Gilat Gallery in Jerusalem, and not shown anywhere since that time. In this drawing installation, Tevet experiments with the concepts of space that he later developed in his sculptural installations. In 1977 He described this work as follows: “Exhibiting in a gallery space (where the viewer expects different objects to be shown), I present the same thing time and again; similar images are differently structured, shown within the same space on two opposing walls, on two sides of the same wall, within two rooms. It is thus impossible to see the whole by a single glance, from any point of view. A tension emerges between the locations one have in relation to each separate drawing and the location we are looking for in order to get an overall view (which is not available)… I try to make the spectator aware of a given site’s qualities and of his being contained within it as well.
Five Rooms is a show in which we lose our sense of certainty regarding our own position in space, an installation that, according to Ory Dessau, “opens a non-unified field of ordinary things, telling a story of the undisciplined, the unexplained, the unexpected.”