Since the late 1960s, the Israeli-born artist Amikam Toren has been producing extraordinary artworks which are frequently the result of appropriation, destruction and re-construction. All his works reveal a rigorous investigation of materials and materiality. Toren’s programmatic interrogation and transmutation of the physical media with which he works destroy the boundaries between painting and sculpture: even the apparently two-dimensional is revealed to possess a physical three-dimensionality and the three-dimensional object is co-opted to become its own two-dimensional representation.
Toren’s work challenges the spectator’s perception of the possible and renders strange the everyday object and the familiar media of art. The products of ‘Sunday-afternoon’ figurative painters are cut through or sliced up and partially liquidised; or their paintings are carefully removed from the stretchers, the artists’ signatures on the corners of their canvases cut out, unfolded, flattened and preserved, pseudo-archaeologically, the appropriated segment revivified as a new work.
Several distinctive interests are evidenced throughout Toren’s distinguished career. They include the exploration of the nature and definition of representation; an interest in reflection and in mirrored reduction; a long-term fascination with the fragment and with destruction and its partial converse - the creative metamorphosis of the broken and smashed; a delight in the co-option and manipulation of graphic signs as art; the interrogation of the relationship between texts and figurative imagery; and an abiding interest in materiality and media.
This exhibition will include several works by Toren from Wolfson College’s Frangenberg Collection. The late Dr Thomas Frangenberg owned the largest collection of Toren’s work in the world. After Thomas’s death, several major works by Toren were bequeathed to Tate, and to Leeds and Manchester Art Galleries, but a nucleus of important works came with the rest of the collection to Wolfson.
The exhibition will be on show in the Combination Room from 13 June to 19 September 2021. Details about opening times will follow shortly.