Ofer Lellouche | Nine
Opening Reception: Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013
Curator: Ron Bartos
The series Nine comprises nine head sculptures which are in fact one – the self portrait of Ofer Lellouche. His entire oeuvre, in painting, drawing and print, as well as in sculpture and relief, breaks down the unity of his figure and head to countless heads of himself, nine of which stand before us. Apart from their shared subject – the portrait of the artist – the nine were also executed in one mold which Lellouche sculpted and then cast 20 times. He subsequently found himself standing like a commander in front of a squad of identical clay sculptures in his image, which he then worked on before choosing the nine that will be cast in bronze.
In his masterpiece engraving Melencolia I, Albrecht Dürer incorporated above the head of the allegorical figure of Melancholia a magic square in which the rows, columns, and diagonals, as well as other possible variations, add up to the sum of 34. If the complexity of the square was not enough, its bottom row which displays the sequence 4, 15, 14, 1, is equivalent to the artist's signature on his artwork: 1 stands for the A in his first name, 4 replaces the D in his surname (Dürer used to sign using the initials A.D.), and the numbers 15 and 14 when not separated make the year in which the engraving was created, 1514.
I propose to think about the nine head sculptures before us as a "magic square". Naturally, I do not intend to provide each head with a numerical value and place it in square matrix which adds up a certain "magic constant," but rather embody the logic that underlies the series of heads in a conceptual alignment. The square layout of three tight rows – comprising three sculptures each – call attention to the permutations between the nine heads, their differences and similarities, much like the relation between the different parts of a magic square. No single digit is identical to the other, and no three digits number is identical to another. The numbers 4, 9, 2 in the first row add up to 15 just like the numbers 3, 5, 7 in the middle row or the diagonal 4, 5, 6. And so the summing up of rows, columns, and diagonals to a constant that does not appear in the actual square is like the accumulation of heads that echoes their constant which is outside the piece – the figure of the artist himself.