This exhibition follows the first retrospective of Boaz Vaadia’s work in Israel and is a celebration of his 50-year career. Known for his unique use of natural materials, this show examines Vaadia’s deep understanding of man’s relationship with nature and his ability to transform bronze and stone into sculptures that express the history of their materials.
Born in Israel in 1951, Vaadia grew up on a farm before relocating to New York in the early 1970s where he undertook scholarships at the Brooklyn Museum Art School and Pratt Institute. With an innate respect for the materials he used, Vaadia sourced slate, shingle, bluestone and boulders from the area surrounding his studios in SoHo and then Williamsburg. Reviving these abandoned materials found on the sidewalk and construction sites reflected Vaadia’s belief that “the urban environment is not an artificial creation but a natural habitat that we have created ourselves.”
At the core of Vaadia’s choice of medium is a representation of the past and the connection between man and nature. Blue stone and slate take many years to develop, gradually forming from layer upon layer of deposits. Vaadia respected and understood nature and the history of these materials, allowing the layers in the sculptures to find a natural balance through gravity.
His majestic figures have a timeless quality that borrow from Egyptian, Greek and African sculpture. Arranged alone, or in groups, Vaadia first named his figurative pieces after childhood friends. For Vaadia these names were also associated with the Bible - but in a cultural not religious sense - so then began to take inspiration for his titles from the Old Testament.
Vaadia has been the subject of major exhibitions around the world, including the recent 2019 retrospective in Israel at The Open Museum, Tefen. His work can now be found in prominent public places including the Time Warner Building, New York; Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Museum, Tokyo; Hakone Open-Air Museum, Hakone; Ravina Sculpture Park, Chicago and Israel Museum, Jerusalem.
Connaught Brown represented Vaadia for many years until his passing in 2017. The gallery now works closely alongside his Estate, with his imagery and particular visual language only growing more iconic with time.