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An Israeli Artist Makes Concrete Sexy

Dubi Ronen goes to war with concrete at wins, making it into a medium of two dimensional representation

Concrete. It’s an interesting word in the English language, one of those words with a double meaning and an interesting etymology. “Crete” is the same as “create” and “con” is “with”, “together”, “coalescing”, “setting”, “hardening”. So “concrete” is something that is being created by coming together, by the coalescing of minerals and water coming together via a chemical reaction that transforms fickle and unstable ingredients into something stable, something STRUCTURAL, something CONCRETE.

And of course “concrete” in English is not just a noun denoting the world’s most ubiquitous building material, but also an adjective, denoting something that is solid, real, tangible.

There is a huge difference between simple sun-dried clay and concrete. Clay remains brittle, always on the verge of falling apart; concrete is forever. Perhaps the true inventor of concrete was the Almighty Himself when he shaped Adam from adamah, the red clay so common all around us and then made him real, made his creation CONCRETE by breathing life into it.

In these senses, the divine and the linguistic, concrete is the original medium of creation and it is rather surprising that not many artists have adopted it as their creative medium of choice. Of course that unjustly excludes architects, artists who create with concrete all day long and whose creations define our living spaces. And it is true, isn’t it, that when one thinks of concrete art, one thinks of something three dimensional, something utilitarian, something like a skyscraper.

As a medium for two dimensional art, for painting, concrete is a rather startling choice. From its crystalline structure and up, concrete does not like two dimensionality. It yearns for depth, it must have depth in order to live, to do “its thing”.

It is a bit of a suicide mission, therefore, on which the Israeli artist Dubi Ronen embarked when he decided to paint with concrete. Most plastic artists prefer to work with their media rather than go to war with it. They create by exploiting their media’s natural advantages rather than fighting it at every step, trying to get it to do what it desperately doesn’t want to.

Great art is always born out of struggle, but that struggle more often takes place between the artist’s ears than between him and his medium. Still, Dubi’s paintings with concrete stabilized by acrylic paints on canvas or other flat surfaces are amazingly appealing. One has to wonder whether his knack for color and composition would have been quite as aparent using more traditional media for two-dimensional art. Perhaps they would have, why not?

Yet this may be a shallow analysis. Perhaps painting with oils or guaches or watercolors would have been too easy for Dubi and nothing good ever comes from living on the sunny side of the street. Perhaps it was precisely from of his war with his medium of choice that his colors and his compositions were born.

The artist

I doubt that he himself could answer this question and in any case, who cares? All we as viewers have to do is enjoy the color harmonies, the composition, and the tremendous sex appeal of Dubi’s works. In reviewing them from high resolution photographs, I have the misfortune of being able to experience only a small fraction of the pleasure they must bring to a face to face viewer. So go see them for yourselves if you can. They are on display at the Shimon Buzgalo Art & Design Workshop on 22 Haim Ben Atar St., Tel Aviv. The exhibition is curated by Ilana Carmeli Lener and the visiting hours are Sunday through Thursday between 10:00 and 17:00. Further details about the artist can be found on his website: www.dubironen.com.

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