Inside Art with Michael Rose: Chazan Gallery returns with drawings and prints

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Wednesday September 22, 2021

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Yizhak Elyashiv PHOTO: Michael Rose

In a place like Rhode Island, some of the best visual art can be found in surprising spaces. For example, many of the state’s finest contemporary art exhibits have been held for years in a modest gallery tucked away on the second floor of the Wheeler School Library on the East Side of Providence. Founded in 1969 and known as Galerie Chazan since 2007, the space has long been renowned for its curatorial muscle. Although temporarily closed by the pandemic, the Chazan Gallery is now reopened to the public and its first exhibition is a reminder of what the community lacked during his absence. Showcasing works by Yizhak Elyashiv and Ken Horii, the gallery’s current exhibition runs until October 6 and it’s a marvel.

During his break, the Chazan Gallery was reused by Wheeler as an ad hoc classroom. The private school maintained in-person instruction throughout the pandemic and its high school students learned in the space that was previously reserved for exhibits. Commenting on the reopening of the gallery, Chazan Gallery Director Liz Kilduff said: “After a long hiatus, we are very excited to reconnect with the community through art. The Wheeler School has supported the gallery since its inception and looks forward to continuing this connection. “

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With his return, the venue’s exhibition programming picks up where it left off. Yizhak Elyashiv and Ken Horii were originally scheduled to exhibit a year ago, and although their exhibit has been postponed, the end result is well worth the wait.

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Yizhak Elyashiv PHOTO: Michael Rose

Elyashiv and Horii are both academically minded artists. Elyashiv divides his teaching time between the faculties of Rhode Island College and the Rhode Island School of Design. Horii served, until his retirement in 2020, as a highly regarded professor of spatial dynamics in the Division of Experimental and Fundamental Studies at RISD. For a decade, he led the division, which is responsible for some of the school’s most rigorous training. Besides their common experience as educators, the main works of art of Elyashiv and Horii are their astonishing precision. The two artists make images that deserve special attention.

During the recent opening of their exhibition in the intimate and concrete ceiling of the Chazan gallery, masked guests mingled with the engravings and the fascinating drawings of two master craftsmen.

Born in Jerusalem, Yizhak Elyashiv began his tenure at RIC shortly after obtaining his MFA from RISD in the early 1990s. He has also taught at his alma mater since 2001. An engraver, his work has been exhibited widely and in venues ranging from the Brooklyn Museum to Harvard. Although based in Providence, Elyashiv also worked in County Mayo, Ireland, and the Irish landscape inspired this recent work.

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Ken Horii PHOTO: Michael Rose

In a tight collection of images of Elyashiv, the theme of cartography or triangulation appears both subliminal and explicit. Cloudy shapes and vanishing points are also comfortable with more gestural and suggestive visual notations.

The descriptive lines define a large part of the aesthetic link between these co-exhibitors. The lines that denote space, depth or flat realities in Elyashiv’s work are a counterpoint to lines by Horii that employ seemingly familiar design language. In his work, we can see a spring, a screw or a section of chain, but everything is not as it seems.

Horii’s deeply layered drawings overlap with various forms of schematic imagery. The statics typical of technical or architectural schemes are flouted in Hori’s works, which are presented on paper that folds and undulates subtly. In Horii’s wall drawings, the trustworthy vocabulary of a plan is often subverted, providing tantalizing opportunities to reconsider ideas on how to read a picture.

Horii enjoyed a successful career that spanned over four decades. A graduate of the prestigious Cooper Union in New York, Horii received his MFA from the University of Wisconsin. Like Elyashiv, Horii has a long curriculum vitae, which includes a wide variety of exhibitions and teachings in the United States and abroad.

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Ken Horii, PHOTO: Michael Rose

When asked what sharing this recent body of work means to him, Horii responds, “I consider the work in this exhibition, the drawing, and my goal is to refine and broaden the investigations. In this way, I consider them generative, where, for example, the dynamics implicit in node diagrams can suggest dance choreography and sound composition. Ideas for an emerging area of ​​unrelated processes and procedures that create momentum for me in unexpected and exploratory ways.

Horii and Elyashiv agree to the artists to reopen a venue of the caliber of the Chazan Gallery and their expertly crafted works of art do not disappoint.

The Chazan Gallery is located at 228 Angell Street in Providence. It is open Monday to Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. To learn more, visit www.chazangallery.org.

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