Scorched History on German Plywood
The new works of Shay Abady
Shay Abady acts out of keen acuteness to the historic domain, and shapes his work in relation to history, a stance which leads him to pursue a dialogue with the grand tradition of Historical Painting
The Renaissance era gave birth to the genre of "Historical Painting" – paintings of epic proportions that portray dramatic depictions of religious or mythological scenes, and visions of battlefields brimming with characters and plots. Subject – more so than style – defines Historical painting, which seeks, in one way or another, to convey its viewers a lesson. History is treated not only as accounts of an epic past, but also as a story, a literary tale, a depiction of lives. In Western art, Historical Painting was considered – at least until the mid 19th century – to be of outmost importance in the hierarchy of figurative genres, and was often compared to Epic Literature – the literary genre of culture-shaping myths. But over the last century, due to the rise of Modernism and its perception of art as autonomic, the status of Historical painting greatly declined and it is now considered obsolete and purely academic. Despite all this, Shay Abady takes a daring risk by leaning on the traditional genre, bending its rules and guidelines to create internal variants. He remains loyal to the genre by weaving his engraved paintings around a choice of historic acts or characters which represent a certain lesson or moral, but at the same time relinquishes the foremost rule of traditional Historical painting – an abundance of characters, details and subplots. Unlike Anselm Kiefer, who adopted the monumental perception of Historical painting and transformed it into a visceral experience filled with substance, Abady creates an intimate dimension completely devoid of the genre's classic form, and seeks to truly touch the laden, problematic past through the individual and the personal. Only a single character...
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