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(work in progress)

Michael Kovner – Drawings Enfolded Within the Self

Ariel Hirshfeld


Michael Kovner does not simply paint Israeli landscapes. He paints within the space of the Hebrew language. The word "drawing" is understood, in his works, as signifying a primal form of contact. Unlike painters in the academic tradition, he does not consider drawing to be a sublime goal in and of itself. He does not view it as a distillation of the classical art of painting to the creation of line – that same mythological line that defines the classical conception of the object, and which identifies the fateful point of contact between "thing" and "no-thing." Kovner belongs to a generation that is deeply familiar with modernism, which continued in part to uphold this mythological conception of line and, in some cases, extended it to define artmaking as a whole. Yet he was born during the twilight of modernism and the twilight of its great beliefs. More than any of his other creative undertakings, his drawings conceive of man as a primal act – as what comes first and precedes all forms of planning and intentionality. They are close to the body and its processes and to the world and its processes. More than any other form of artmaking that Kovner engages with, his drawings are born of an experience of contact: the contact with the charcoal is akin to contact with the depths of the soul touched by vision.

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