Opinion

The artistic vision of Yankel Ginzburg reflects surrealistic, ambiguous shapes painted in bold, brilliant colors. His buoyant, free floating embryonic structures are sensual and evocative, always life-giving and hope inspiring. His is a kaleidoscope image of the future of mankind, a philosophy he propagates as positive and optimistic.

It has been said that Yankel Ginzburg is a futurist with an eye kept on the past. He loathes to categorize his artistic style, calling himself neither a realist nor an avant-garde visionary. "People are always putting frames on me," he says, "Some say I am an Israeli painter, some say a Jewish painter, some say an American artist, but I feel I am only a painter influenced by the world around me."

Chagall, Picasso, Kandinsky, Miro, Bosch and Rauschenberg, these are some of the artists whose works Yankel Ginzburg admires. He feels, however, that no one artist influenced his art. "The fluctuating world influences my paintings," says Yankel Ginzburg, "The only possible exception is Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1516). As a young art student his works intrigued me. His art was warped and very complex, yet it opened a third eye for me. I knew if he wasn’t inhibited to express himself in that manner, than I shouldn’t be either. It was as if his art gave me the confidence and the inspiration to go to the studio and paint."

Yankel Ginzburg has always loved a creative challenge. Artistic versatility has and continues to be a strong suit for him. In a smooth, sweeping transition, Ginzburg's art has evolved from mystical symbolism through realism to abstraction. "I mark the shifts in my art by the people I have met and their influences on me. I never had the ability to say; ‘Today I am going to change my art,’ Neither did I desire to. It just came to me. As Pablo Picasso said, ‘A man that does not allow himself to be influenced by others, does not commit progress.’ As we all know the only thing permanent in life is change; therefore I move on."

Ginzburg was first a realist who sought to reconcile the biblical with the modern worlds. He often dramatized injustices such as war and poverty through his art, drawing upon his Eastern European heritage and the unpleasant years there. "At first," says Ginzburg,"those images were comforting to me because I visually expressed what I could not verbalize in my new language. The artistic expression of my past releasedme from my misery and enabled me to experience life in a more positive light."

Many visual messages are present in the works of Yankel Ginzburg. He is an artist of intellect and reason, one whose works inspire deep contemplation. His earlier works are attributed to his need to express the tremendous changes and fears he experienced as a child. They featured more concrete symbolic items: A Hammer and Sickle, a Cross, the Star of David and others, things that tied his symbolism bluntly to the real world. No more, as he matured the symbols disappeared. "Too many people have died for symbols," says Ginzburg. Mysteriously, the ladder, a biblical symbol of hope which Ginzburg unconsciously identifies with, is the only symbol that continues to surface throughout his works

In the 70’s, Ginzburg turned to surreal-abstraction. His art began to adopt a more ambitious and hopeful attitude. Ginzburg began to focus on the future by concentrating on forms and situations he believes will be common in years to come.

Ginzburg’s use of organic forms arose from his need to protest against the excessive rule of the geometric art movement. He created multiple organic elements that floated though his canvases as if to protest or remind the viewer that a new era must come: Man-made geometric forms must merge with nature. One has called the new configurations; "oxygen carrying life-support systems that appear as sea plants rising out of the sea in a myriad of colors, straining upward, fluid, mobile, transcending the present and reaching out for the future and the vast unknown."

These elongated shapes, which symbolize Ginzburg’s break with his past realism, are always balanced by circles, surrealistic flowers, letters of the English and Hebrew alphabet or clocks alluding to the passage of time. These shapes are simple in origin, yet Ginzburg has surrounded them with infinite detail, offering a complex rhythm that invites thought.

As Ginzburg explores new artistic frontiers his biomorphic shapes, brilliant colors and environmental compositions inspired by his abstract view of nature are still very prominent and they seem to be preparing him for a more monumental direction.

"We are on the verge of the twenty-first century and art is very much a living language," says Ginzburg. Now his body of works envision a future that he sees as full of promise and excitement. He is not afraid to experiment with any and all modern tools that will help him depict this future. For example, while creating, Ginzburg may use air brushes, various chemical compounds, or any other method he can devise to establish his own vision of the future on canvas.

While Ginzburg works with many mediums, one that has captured his concentration is multidimensional acrylic. His fascination with acrylic was born out of experimentation with glass and polyester. "As I was working on my customary mix of polyester and acrylic paint, I discovered that the clear surface of polyester carried my colors as if hundreds of glass mirrors were directed upon it. It was then that I knew I had stumbled upon something that would create fantastic illusions."

Continuing to research this prismatic experience, as a painter, fascinated by sculpture, Ginzburg’s priority was not to conquer space as conventional sculpture may demand, but instead to emphasize its play of color and light. He was able to create a series of acrylic structures which had a primary function to play the light against his colors. It was a joyful marriage between my paint and the acrylic form. As Ginzburg noted, "It proves that light is the first element of creation." He created his sculptures in detachable forms enabling them to be rearranged at will permitting the viewers to be a part of the interplay of light and the creative experience. Commenting about his sculptures, Ginzburg says, "I give birth to it, but it is the viewer who gives it life."

The intimacy with his sculptures increased the quality of his expressions in relationship to his canvases. Unable to obtain the prismatic effect on canvas, he sought something comparable. His answer — to amplify elements of beauty in a bold and deliberate move. He creates images of unrealistic proportions with definite realistic feelings as if he is saying beauty does not cease to exist because it is ignored. His complete canvases emanate an almost absolute spiritual mystery, fusing ancient images and contemporary art, dispelling all notions that our past does not belong to our future.

Ginzburg never works on just one piece of art nor in one medium at a time. Each piece comes to him in its own space, compelling him to wait for the right vision before he brings it to fruition. Some of his pieces lie dormant as if in a deep winter sleep waiting to be aroused by spring, allowing them to grow and develop with the light and warmth of a new season.

-J.C. Ziegler