Dina Barzel: Small Sculpture
Dina Barzel's career seems to trace not only the sometimes inevitable transition from 'craft' to 'art,' but ultimately enlarges on the definitions of terms such as 'fibre' and 'plasticity' in her transition from 'fibre artist' to 'sculptor.' In this respect, she has rightfully aspired to the cerebral realms of luminaries such as Magdalena Abakanowicz and Eva Hesse. Born in Romania, an immigrant to Israel and then the U.S., Barzel delighted in manipulating fibres: sewing, stitching, weaving and plaiting from early childhood. In her early artistic work, she used traditional fibres and techniques to express contemporary forms. She wove large abstract figures from handspun wool and organic shapes from felted natural fibres. She states that "it is always the material that gives me the first push," and what has followed is her exploration of non-traditional, non-fibrous materials such as sheets of metal and clay, or split wood, branches and fiberglass: all of which she manipulates like fabric - shearing, shaping, tying or stitching. In a word, she has sought out the plasticity of each material as it might be bent to stitchery, rather than carving, welding or casting. Barzel's work has become increasingly minimal, as if she wants to underscore the simple power of process and raw, unadorned material. Heavy Load, (illustrated) for instance, is a stately pile consisting of a 'stitched' clay vessel and lightly bound, weathered-looking fabric scrolls. The title seems anomalous, because the vessel appears heavier than the scrolls - maybe what Barzel wants us to think about. Other viewers might mischievously think of the Israeli ship of State - and the Torah.
© Ted Lindberg