Israeli illustrator Hanoch Piven for the first time in Romania, explains why art is a game

For the first time in Romania, famous Israeli illustrator and cartoonist Hanoch Piven exposed a little bit of his art and life philosophy a day before performing the two workshops at Art Safari 2017 in Bucharest, during a warm meeting at Kretzulescu Galleries in Bucharest, where the largest art fair in the country is hosted until June 18.

His motto “Art is a game. Games prepare us for life” is more than plastic, with his entire speech revolving around the concept that art is not about perfection of beauty, but rather about playfulness and free spirit.

I am very glad to be here. My work is really about playing with objects, objects are a language, speaking in different ways, meant to make fun, to describe something about people”, the artist confessed, while explaining how he has been playing with bananas or other objects used in his caricatures for more than 25 years.

Starting his career in New York, going famous through renowned Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Hanoch Piven hasn’t been shy in making caricatures of numerous personalities, from Moses and Darwin to Steve Jobs, from Madonna and Woody Allen to Golda Mei, Barack Obama and Donald Trump. And there were not some ordinary, common caricatures, but some based on collages, about which he said that is very popular in Eastern Europe and also in Romania. Piven even revealed he has been inspired by many Romanian-born artists such as Eugene Mihaescu, Andre Francois, Saul Steinberg.

How did he get there?

He confessed that the reason for doing these collages is in fact because he was not such a good drawer, who doesn’t have such a great drawing technique.

I was born in Uruguay and as a kid, my drawings were like any others. By the age of 11, we moved to Israel and slowly the educational system pushed me away from art into mathematics, physics, science. And I stopped drawing. I wanted to go the Art University but I was not accepted in Israel. I ended up in NY, and started to draw, make caricatures. But I was very frustrated for not having the right technique. I was OK but I was nothing special, other people used to be more impressive than me and that’s why I was very confused, depressed and frustrated,” Piven recounted.

However, this frustration seemed to actually get him on a different, but right track. For instance,  his creation, a caricature of Saddam Hussein, with his moustache created from a line of matches, made him famous.

It was a happy accident that really changed my life, because I’ve started making caricatures with as less information as possible and with objects that told something about the people that I was depicting.

What is the collage in fact?

In Piven’s view, the collage is a metaphor for life, which is full of errors, mistakes, confusions, but it’s a natural way to discover new things.

There is something about the collage that taught me a lot, what is the collage’s role, which is opposite to Ikea, there is no plan, no instructions about it, nothing to tell you what to do.

The collage’s role is more like driving on a scenic route and the reason for being there is that we want to see, to discover, so we are constantly searching and what we see influences us. So, we stop, and make a picnic and we change our plans according to what we discover. We see. French poet and philosopher Paul Valery said <to see is to forget the name of what we are looking at>. Our brain needs to describe, to name everything in order to increase our certainty to know where we are, we need to define everything. But Valery says that if we manage to trick our brain into not defining, maybe then there is a chance to discover something new. A collage has a playful role, as through it we allow ourselves we are more creative.”

So, the Israeli artist said that confusion is a normal state in our life and the collage comes as a natural thing and it allows us to forget preconceptions.

Step by step, Piven got out of his studio and started visiting schools, as children would send him their own creations, collages they’ve made inspired by his work.

It was a problem meant to deal with my own problems but suddenly it was a language for everybody in the world, not just children, but also adults,” the illustrator said. Talking about the adults’ fear to let themselves lured into game, Piven pointed out that collages and caricatures are not about creating art, but about communication, as “objects are a language”.

The biggest lesson on collage is that we have to be open to change and to discover, open to not knowing, which is perfectly OK, as long as we have a playful space around us that allows us not to pay a heavy price for our mistakes,” he concluded.

Have his works had ever annoyed the subjects?

No, I don’t think I have ever had any complaints, Hanoch Piven said.

I try not to meet the people whose caricatures I have drawn. A good caricaturist is someone who is a little bit aside from society. When I made the picture of Ariel Sharon I met his son at a party two days before. And it really created a disturbance for me, because I didn’t want to look at him as a real person, with a family, didn’t want to feel any empathy. When you start feeling empathy, you’ll not be able to be a caricaturist. It was very important to me to not get close to people that I was taking pictures of.

On Saturday, June 10, you can personally meet Hanoch Piven at Art Safari at the two workshops he will conduct for children and their parents, at 12:00 and 16:00 at Kretzulescu Galleries, 45 Calea Victoriei.

As Art Safari CEO Ioana Ciocan as said, the art fair’s educational side is quite strong this year, and for the first time there will be workshops dedicated to children and their parents, so to families altogether.

Art Safari- an unedited experience

We also assure you that you won’t have any regrets by visiting the entire Art Safari, the largest art event in Romania, a venue of 7,000 sqm of art on five floors of an intriguing but appealing building, which captures styles and messages from the classic art represented by Stefan Luchian up to the ones of the present days.

You will find how a Belgian curator has seen and understood the spirit of Romania in “Notes of a Landscape” central exhibition or what are the new art trends displayed by contemporary art galleries.

And be sure you don’t miss the three-channel video installation powered by Mobius Gallery at the third floor hall D1, Bellini-inspired “Allegoria Sacra”, an exquisite and touching video focused on the stereotypes of humanity; it will definitely cheer the cockles of your heart.

Romania Journal supports ArtSafari2017 as media partner.

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