'Lyrical and Spiritual' Sculptor Yaacov Dorchin Surprised by Israel Prize Award for Plastic Arts

Dorchin, 65, represented Israel in the Venice Biennale of 1990, when the Israeli pavilion was curated by Adam Baruch; the sculptor has previously received several other important prizes.

Daniel Rauchwerger
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Daniel Rauchwerger

The sculptor Yaacov Dorchin will be awarded the 2011 Israel Prize for the Plastic Arts, Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar announced yesterday.

Dorchin, 65, represented Israel in the Venice Biennale of 1990, when the Israeli pavilion was curated by Adam Baruch. The sculptor has previously received several other important prizes, including, together with the painter Yair Garbuz, the EMET Prize for 2005. He teaches at Beit Berl Academic College's Hamidrasha Art College, as well as at Tel Aviv's Avni Institute of Art and Design and the University of Haifa.

Dorchin at work in his studio. Several of his works are displayed prominently in cities around Israel.Credit: Yuval Tebol

News of the Israel Prize came as a surprise to Dorchin. "It is exciting," he told Haaretz yesterday, "especially because art is going in a very different direction these days."

Dorchin was born in Haifa and has lived on Kibbutz Kfar Hahoresh for more than 40 years. His works are on display in prominent outdoor locations around the country.

"Well and Four Dogs" is in central Tel Aviv, on the corner of King George Street and Ben-Zion Boulevard. The 30-meter-high "Sukkah" is on Kibbutz Neveh Ur, while "Merkava" is installed in the town of Nes Tziona. Two years ago, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art held a retrospective, "Iron Folds and Line Gestures," curated by the museum's director, Prof. Mordechai Omer.

In explaining its choice of Dorchin, the Israel Prize jury cited the "lyrical and spiritual nature" of his iron sculptures, which "bring together contradictions such as delicacy and power, evanescence and stability, realism, industrialism and advanced culture."

Dorchin is among Israel's most important sculptors, and is considered a successor to Yehiel Shemi, Igael Tumarkin and Menashe Kadishman. Over the years, solo exhibitions of his works have been held at galleries that include Tel Aviv's Givon and Gordon galleries; today, he is represented by the latter.

Dorchin cites two major influences on his work: the relationship he developed with the German multidisciplinary artist Joseph Beuys, and the Venice Biennale, through which he met such sculptors as Eduardo Chillida and Anthony Caro.

"The prize finds me in the midst of an active routine, continuous work on many sculptures in parallel," Dorchin told Haaretz last night.

Dorchin's first artworks were paintings and assemblages. In 1970, all of his works were destroyed in a fire at his studio on the kibbutz, and he stopped working for two years. It was this crisis that led him to travel to Europe, where he met Beuys.



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