• Culture
Cutting Out Space in Public Art
Text by Yi Mei


City on Wheels. Spring in the Air. Jazz and City—Piano.

So few Chinese art enthusiasts know anything about Israeli art that David Gerstein, one of Israel’s most influential artists, has taken it upon himself to serve as a messenger between the two countries. Over the last few years, Gerstein has visited China many times to install public art projects in various cities across the country. Recently, his first solo exhibition in China was hosted by Today Art Museum in Beijing. The exhibition, themed “Layers,” features the artist’s multi-layered cut-out sculpture art and traces his artistic exploration process through different stages. Centered around the evolution of his artistic language, the exhibition showcases his most characteristic cut-out art to cut straight into the philosophies of the artist.

“I am very glad to hold such an exhibition in Beijing,” says Gerstein. “I really hope my exhibition serves as a window for Chinese spectators to enjoy Israeli art.”

David Gerstein, born in Jerusalem in 1944, is a public artist and sculptor in Israel. He has been seeking to push the limits of painting, and cut-out sculptures have come to represent his ground-breaking experiments to add a third dimension to the art form. In 1987, David Gerstein held his first large solo exhibition in an Israeli museum where his cut-out sculptures drew intense scrutiny from international art circles. Three decades later, his works can be found around the globe.

Many can be found in China. One highlights a senior center in Beijing: a tree covered with butterflies. “David’s works always embody great aspirations and lust for life,” says curator Angela Lu. “When I met him many years ago, I knew I wanted to introduce his art to China. Today, my dream has finally come true.” 

David Gerstein began exploring various art forms in the 1970s. His early efforts mainly focused on figurative paintings with realistic style. These works were mostly themed on urban landscapes and his experience with dark palettes, and a sense of isolation and reclusion runs throughout this stage of his work.

In the 1980s, his work shifted to a different stage: He switched focus from painting to sculpture and his preferred palette changed from dark to brighter colors. During this time, he began breaking the boundaries of two-dimensional painting by creating three-dimensional sculptures and developing unique “cut-out sculptures.”

“Israeli artists are usually weighed down by sad history and national suffering,” explains Angela Lu. “But David made a change. His work always embraces life and hope.”




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