‘Breaking the framework’, ‘thinking outside the box’ are expressions relating to creative, unusual thinking patterns. Boxes and panels are the home ground of comic book artists. At present, we may be locked up in boxes, cohorts, and bubbles, wearing armour and protective layers, but the heart still wants to break out, yearning for human contact and connection. Although structure is a crucial element in comic book art, by nature it’s an art form which breaks boundaries ― between the story and the drawing, between different artistic approaches.
In its most basic definition, comics is a sequence of images, each of which stands alone, with its own meaning and aesthetic value, but the magic happens when the images are juxtaposed and receive broader significance. When comic artists compose images on a page – whether a thick graphic novel, or three squares on the wrapping of Bazooka chewing gum – the principle is the same. It’s the art of rhythmically treating each layer of the work, from the moment inspiration strikes, the very first spark, choosing the words, style, and technique, and up to choosing the colours. It’s not only the sequence of images that differentiates comics from other visual arts, but also the link between the image and the written words, a unique combination which lets two autonomous forms of art meet on a new stage and launch a dialogue. Comic artists indeed define their work not only as an artistic medium into which they inject content, but a real language, with symbols and conventions. For them, it’s the most natural means of self-expression, in the spirit of the times, when cell phones and apps have transformed us into keyboarders / chatterboxes / reacting without restraint. All of us constantly take photos, upload them to social media, share, update, and are updated, not to mention the Zoom discussions, zoom zoom zoom, a noisy beehive of scraps of information and fake news.
And that’s why the comics in this exhibition are silent. The images don’t need a lot of text to relate a complex narrative with deep currents. The comic artists themselves are the protagonists, and in a series of self-portraits they gaze inwards and reveal their world to us.
Wolf Wolf by Hila Noam considers beastly lust, and inner struggle. Matan Kohn grapples with isolation, Gilad Seliktar with seeking and loss, Alon Braier with horror, Dan Alon and Ovadia Benishu explore disconnection and indifference, Asaf Hanuka deals with aspirations, Einat Tsarfati with motherhood, and Omer Hoffmann with childhood memories, while Nimrod Reshef’s video art analyses making art in a restricted space. In Ilana Zeffren’s work, she proposes a distinctive solution that breaks down the wall between the realm of imagination and reality. No, it’s not Zoom, it’s comics! Art works refuse to be imprisoned in four walls, and like superheroes they fly towards you, through the screen.
Something’s going to break, crash!!!
Something’s bursting through the frame. Booom!!!
Is it a plane? Is it a bird? Nope, it’s a human being working with a pencil.
Pencil in hand, Uri Fink takes a journey that follows the history of Hebrew comics – ending the exhibition on the ground floor.
Guest Curator: Nimrod Reshf
Assistant Curator, Negev Museum: Nirit Dahan