Bird Made of Wire

Aaron Adani's works of mesh, marble and Perspex tackle interesting concepts creatively, yet his exhibition still smacks of disappointment.

A cloud of having missed the mark hovers over "Forehead Mesh," Aaron Adani's exhibition at the Kibbutz Gallery in Tel Aviv. There are quite a number of beautiful of works in it and interesting treatment of wire mesh (chicken wire, a material often used in art courses ) but it seems as though the curator, or the artist, fell indiscriminately and deleteriously in love with the works.

It is hard to understand how some of the works in this exhibition ended up displayed in the gallery. I am referring mainly to "Veil," which oversteps the boundary of kitsch and leaves it far behind, as well as to "Forehead Mesh."

Both these works, which look like practice tries, are almost outrageously simplistic with regard to the place of mimesis, the imitation of reality in art. Works of lesser quality always damage an entire exhibition and in this case this is excruciatingly obvious.

Alongside these two works are pieces made interesting by their beauty and coldness. The works are made of squares of marble or cubes of uniform size on which there are etchings and drawings in graphite. There are also works in Perspex dealing with language and concepts of beauty that rely on an aesthetic of wealth, strength and ostentation.

Adani's use of marble moves along an almost impossible axis between the memory of the marble on Michelangelo's famous Medici tomb and Marcel Duchamp's sharp and intelligent work from 1921, "Why Not Sneeze, Rose Selavy?" in which a bird cage contains a fever thermometer, squid ink and cubes of marble that look like sugar cubes.

Only when one tries to lift the work does it emerge that the cubes are not made of sugar but rather of marble. Duchamp touches the place where the costly, cold material becomes accessible and empties of the trappings of luxury.

Adani turns marble into memoirs and musings about the environment endowed with physical and metaphorical weight by their engraving. "Bird's Eye View," from 2007, is a small ensemble of marble slabs alongside what look like bullets made of Perspex. These bullets appear repeatedly in the exhibition, a hint of transparent yet present violence hovering like a ghost. Adani has formed these bullets beautifully and in this way he connects a very long tradition of beautifying and adorning weapons for killing, but he preserves mainly the shape.

In "Pipe's Eye View," a landscape is engraved like a topographical map on a cube of marble and alongside it is a delicate engraving of the image of a bird, almost just a shadow of a bird. Together with the bullets placed alongside them, these create a statement about memory, which is not transmitted to the beholder as a specific story yet nevertheless is quite clear.

"Visionary in a Cloud," from 2007, is also a work built as a small ensemble of marble and Perspex. This is a topographical map or a path map in which a female figure is seen engraved on the outlines on white marble placed on a Perspex shelf alongside some Perspex bullets.

In the body of the text, curator Yael Keini refers to the bullets merely as "cones" but it seems their shape is not unambiguous.

Adani builds thick, transparent shelves and tables of Perspex. The connection to design in this exhibition is obvious and leads to a search for a kind of irony or play between times because of the association with the "Louis Ghost," chair designed by Philippe Starck or the "How High the Moon" chair by Shiro Kuramata.

However, in Adani's works there is no irony but rather an attempt to call attention to the unbearable lightness of being in this place. The link to design is inherent because Adani is concerned with the question of the artist as craftsman.

"Joseph Dreams of Flying" is a large work made of wire mesh, 3 or 4 meters wide. Adani plays with the wire as though embroidering it and offers a logic reminiscent of the ancient human attempt to create something so light it can fly.

Scattered in a number of places in the gallery are dense balls of mesh that look like an artificial nest or a lighting fixture. These are dense gray balls at the center of which is an empty space and the repetition of them makes them a kind of accompaniment to the rest of the works.

A small object 25 centimeters in diameter from 2010 entitled "Untitled" is one of the most beautiful in the exhibition. This is a tangled circle of metal that looks like effort has been made to tame it and it is tied like a rope, wound around itself, twisted and coiled until it seems the material is suffering and it will hurt anyone who touches it.