"…it's all intertwined, every memory, life, like a flower bed, like fruit, my life ripens, my years, my hopes and so on, because it's an infinite bank, from word to word, its length, it's width, the space it occupies"
Yona Wallach Criss-cross.
Doron Polak / Curator
Projective Artura Artists Museum
Suddenly, in midlife, a man begins creating with obsessive intensity .
He takes pictures, processes them. Excited he collates, draws words, weaves, dreams, hallucinates, creates a crisscross of fantastic colors undefined by clear cut borders.
Gil Goren is a different and candid art designer of the kind we are not used to encountering .He is a kind of poet who uses broken and chopped up words and phrases taken from the urban landscapes around him. He captures the mood of the moment, the current vernacular and creates a new language which he translates into soaring pieces of art that convey turbulent movement, rhythm and sound.
Goren is without a doubt, a sort of modern, contemporary and visual scribe who creates collages that contain secret and encrypted codes whose messages provide a real challenge for viewers to decipher. And behind the words , as per the quoted poetry of Yona Wallach, is life itself. Life, the memories, the years of ripening, the tenderness and satisfaction with in immediate conflict to that, the disappointments and frustrations.
These are the components of the turbulent saga and the ongoing artwork of Gil Goren . It is difficult to understand Gil Goren's work without fully processing and absorbing the beauty and aesthetic values that underlie and influence the puzzle-type appearance of the author's pieces.
These values are particularly complex in a person who by trade, working at an advertising agency, is exposed daily to thousands of commercial words, messages and images. Those elements – the ones he gravitates around every day, have affected every cell of his creative and inventive mind. Hence, while for most artists the work and the idea are the central and founding construct of their work, for Gil Goren there is a process of hoarding and careful curation of images and words that are rearranged and reassembled in order to create his own particular brand of artistry. One that applies the same DNA he puts into designing a billboard, a print ad or a highly pixelated screenshot, to the one he uses to create the backbone for his artform and the essential element of his highly intelligent work. A body of work from whose highly intelligent and rational basis emerges an additional layer of emotion which creates a new platform and gives license to Goren to freely express himself and exercise his acute artistic acumen.
Roland Barthes one of the most prominent and important theorists of contemporary photography, states in his book "Camera Lucida " that "the Photograph always leads the corpus I need back to the body I see; it is the absolute Particular, the sovereign Contingency, matte and somehow stupid, the This (this photograph, and not Photography), in short, what Lacan calls the Tuche, the Occasion, the Encounter, the Real, in its indefatigable expression". Those occasions are the amputated words and sentence parts, the photographical fragments and objects Gil Goren finds throughout his long walks around New York City.
These are the sights he imagined softly framing, shooting and using as raw materials for his visual creations. His photography does not stand alone as an independent body of artistry or documentary worth, but rather is captured with forethought, as background material that cumulates into a wealth of potential imagery, which he will use in the visual collages he produces in his studio. The occasions Barthes speaks of - those connection points made up of the objects and words Gil finds on the street, those that make up the urban fabric of New York and keep Goren fascinated - prompt him to return to the city again and again in search of other sentence segments and objects to incorporate in his work.
I found in the mythological Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa's "Book of Disquiet", an explanation to the words that emerge and are laboriously reassembled on Gil Goren's fascinating canvas pieces. "I love using words. As far as I am concerned, words are entities one can touch. They are like mermaids - sensual. But realistic sensuality has never interested me – it has never occupied my thoughts or my dreams – what has captivated me is the way they transform and create verbal rhythms, the way they are echoed by others".
This is what New York City is all about, or more precisely this is how through words Gil Goren perceives New York. It is the capital of freedom, a city with no limits, a city where the air framed between skyscrapers, spawned some of the most famous and central pieces of pop art in the sixties by such famous artists as Andy Warhol , Jasper Johns , Jackson Pollock and others. When it comes to the bright color seams, renovated canvases and unconventional combinations of materials, one can definitely find a dialogue and parallel between Gil Goren and Roy Lichtenstein's work.
Gil Goren, in most of his color and texture-rich pieces, creates word combinations that take on a larger meaning whether read lengthways or sideways – adding conceptual dimension to his creations. At first glance one could think that the combinations are used as an element of design or way to add color and create the perfect aesthetic appearance. But at a second glance, one cannot but capture the true meanings behind the words, brought about by the careful orchestration of their visual rhythm and precise positioning between the visual elements. The work becomes conceptual.
"Now You Can Love Me " is one of the sayings that emanate from Gil Goren's carefully collated sentence fragments. This paradoxical, very personal and private statement , on the backdrop of New York's lonely jungle, sounds almost absurd - like taken from one of Berthold Brecht's plays.
Thereafter, phrases like "Welcome To Freedom" or "Never Sleeps" while describing the New York landscape, sound almost commonplace. Goren's pieces, built from square colored elements that make up a larger square canvas, make a powerful artistic statement.
In the series, mostly defined by two word combinations like : "Square man", "Soho Boys", "Madison Hero" and "City Circle" Goren uses New York terms that immediately create a rapport with what the city is most famous for - its entertainment, music, business mindedness and sleepless pace. For every piece he builds a design language that is unique and clearly reflects its conceptual purpose. Every piece has a unique feel, flow and rhythm of color, shape and form. It goes without saying that in Gil Goren's works of art - the term "Branding " – acquires a new and more up-to-date meaning.
A previously questionable practice, the loaning of familiar iconic designs is nowadays fair game when used to create the basis for a new artistic language – one that artfully mirrors New York's culture, vernacular, idioms and shapes to create a new universally liberating cultural experience.
A quick recap of the history of art shows there have been many instances in which people have used shapes and the written word to create new designs and artistic currents more in touch with their time. In each instance, they have been used to shine a new light, express a point of view and sometimes a critique on the genre from which they originated and the reality in which they were born. Calligraphy in Middle Eastern culture (also in Jewish culture) was one of the earliest forms of artistic expression and a way to reflect the reality that existed at that time. But the use of the word evolved.
In modern and futuristic times, the word became part of artistic installations and was used as an additional way for conceptual artists to express themselves. Like in Dadaism and in Bauhaus, where disassembly and reassembly are so common, also in Goren's work – words and sentence fragments are rearranged, put back together. Modern art opened the door to the use of words in artistic creation and legitimized their inclusion in museum exhibits. Later, the emergence of computer and video art only reinforced this trend and radicalized the use of words in art, bringing it to new heights.
For reference purposes, simply look up the works of artists like Joseph Kosuth and Jenny Holzer whose innovative pieces mystified the New York art scene in the eighties.
Gil Goren's art repositions the body of work that connects between the schools of design and visual art by giving them a new dimension and fostering new synergies with the mediums linked with the language of propaganda and consumerism.
The whole creaes a pleasurable experience for the visitor and an incursion into a colorful universe where words and shapes beat a rhythmic drum.
Doron Polak / Curator of the exhibition Projective Artura Artists Museum