The Arty Semite

'Keeping it From Collapse': The Sculptural Visions of Dina Recanati

By Benjamin Ivry

  • Print
  • Share Share

Until June 16, Manhattan art lovers will have the unusual experience of visiting a gallery exhibit by a banker’s widow who also happens to be an evolving, gifted artist.

Dina Recanati, born in Cairo in 1928, married the banker and philanthropist Raphael Recanati in Tel Aviv in 1946, after which she pursued art studies in London and New York. Her current show, which opened May 6 at Chelsea’s Flomenhaft Gallery, reveals faithfulness to her time-honored investigations, but with new visual force, intensity, and scope.

Recanati has always been an artist of the desert, inspired by wind, harsh weather, and the erosion which they cause. Already in 1989, in a solo exhibit at Ramat Gan’s Museum of Israeli Art, Recanati expressed the theme of “survival, which to me means continuity,” as she states on her website: “Columns that are support systems. Trees that serve as an oasis, where the tired voyager may want to stop just for a moment on his continuous journey.”

In the decade since her husband’s death in 1999, the emotional range of Recanati’s art has expanded, as witnessed by her somber, haunted 2001 sculptural installations at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. The desert turns precious relics deceptively into something looking like debris, and time can make the Dead Sea Scrolls oddly resemble the results of a backyard bonfire.

The attrition by the elements, a tactile weathering of storm-tossed objects, is described by Recanati on her website in this way: “My manuscripts are layers that are marked, injured at times, sometimes burned, but as an experience from which we learn, almost a necessary passage.” One such object is in New York’s The Jewish Museum, a 1976 “Book” made of styrofoam and mixed media which gently invites Jews as “People of the Book” to look at what condition the book is in.

At the Flomenhaft Gallery, textures are more powerfully kneaded, brilliant colors of the desert more deeply explored, and in general, images rebelliously break the bounds of the pictorial frame. These works, all given numbers after the constant title “Gathering Winds,” are both ominous and reassuring as they capture permanent aspects of nature.

Even if nature’s power is inevitably destructive, Recanati observes in another quote from her website: “I deal with digging the past, with saving the remnants, with continuity…I deal with gathering what I can build on; to salvage before it crumbles in order to keep it from collapse.”

Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Dina Recanati, Flomenhaft Gallery

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover!
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.