by Jordi Egea
— Living among the lines
by Etienne Sauret
— In Full Bloom
2014 Ron Agam, Opera Gallery, Hong Kong
2013 Ron Agam: The Breakthrough, Vered Gallery, East Hamp- ton, NY
2012 Ron Agam : recent works, The Joseph Slifka Center for Jewish Life, Yale University
2011 Ron Agam, BDG gallery, New York City
2009 In Full Bloom, Tyler Rollins Fine Art, New York City
2001 At the Wall, 92nd Street Y, New York City
2000 At the Wall, Milton & Betty Katz Jewish Community Center, Margate, NJ
1997 At the Wall, Jeanette Weinberg Jewish Community Campus, Albuquerque , NM
1996 At the Wall, Magidson Fine Art, New York City.
1996 At the Wall, Andy Weiss Gallery, Coral Gable, Florida 1994 At the Wall, Magidson Fine Art, New York City
2014 9/11 Memorial Museum, Permanent collection, New York City
2014 Visions of Abstraction, Ron Agam, Opera Gallery, Dubai
2007 Here is New York. Remembering 9/1 J/O J, New-York Historical Society, New York City.
2001 Here is NY /5 New York, 116 Prince Street, New York City, traveling exhibition
Constellations are projections of human meaning onto the mute facts of nature. Ron Agam’s paintings are, in this sense, constellations. Bold and elusive, calculated and deeply intuitive, innocent and wise, his paintings enmesh the viewer in an optic limbo somewhere between perception and understanding, opening up multitudes of meaning even while resisting easy categorization. It is work that evidences a profound passion for the mechanics of aesthetics, an embracing joy contemplation of the unknowable, and a deep sensitivity to the human condition itself.
Yet, despite a spiritual bent, Ron’s canvases prefer to document rather than speculate. His work places the viewer at the center of a universe of shapes, colors, perspectives, and attendant associations that arise organically from the act of beholding, while avoiding overt prescriptions of meaning. Take Ein Sof, a spiraling tower of red and white, seemingly extruded from the surface of the painting itself. Rendered in little more than raised white lines on a red background, the work transcends the simplicity of its construction to aspire towards something profound and ineffable, bringing the viewer along. It is an optical curiosity that both requires and rewards patience, inviting associations and shifting perspectives in time and space the longer one looks.
Likewise, the 2014 piece, Invisible Reality: Nine white cubes, standing on their corners, twist across a white canvas. Closer inspection reveals that these cubes emit barely perceptible fields of color, taken up by the canvas and offered back to the viewer as a subtle tint. The effect—exhilarating, disorienting, mysterious—is deceptively simple: The thing itself is the mystery, and as such, a liberation.
Simpler still is Infinity in Blue, a series of precise, raised, concentric squares centered on a large canvas. Hypnotic and pulsating, appearing variously as pyramid and tunnel, the painting manages another feat of emergence, revealing depth and dimension where we know there is only paint, wood, and canvas. It is a deeply curious painting, in the essential, newborn sense of that word: Eager to learn.
Of course, the sense of wonder is deeply rooted. “I remember, as a child, looking at the stars and thinking about who we are, what is our significance, and the meaning of all that,” Agam recalls. “I never resolved those questions! So, in that sense, in this art, I am still that child—and I am at ease.” The work confirms as much. These are illustrations of a soul looking outwards, still questioning those abstract essentials, yet from a place of great repose.
As such, it must be said that these are generous works, inseparable from the spirit that created them. As an artist, Mr. Agam is alloyed to the challenges of the human condition; someone for whom the act of living can be deliberate, responsive, and palliative. As a body, his work offers a perspective on the ineffable, via the democratic tool of perception. As in all great art, to look at it is to see the world afresh.