A conversation about urban transformation and political art with Ami Shinar
Time Space Existence is an eclectic exhibition that every two years welcomes architecture practitioners, but also a selection of artists coming from different parts of the world. The collective show presents a variety of projects, creating a dialogue between explorations in architecture and design, but also in art and photography, blurring the boundaries between these disciplines.
Artistic installations are perhaps unexpected to see in an architecture exhibition, but we believe they can offer a diverse perspective on the world we live in, enabling inspiring contaminations. A great example of this different vision is what architect and artist Ami Shinar is bringing to Time Space Existence this year.
Architecture and Art are closely linked in the world of Ami Shinar. His art is recently involved with social and political transformations of his hometown Tel Aviv. We asked Shinar about his creative process and the importance of the “political” aspects of his work, also in context of the 2023 Time Space Existence exhibition in Venice.
ECC Team: What is the importance of participating in Time Space Existence in Venice?
Ami Shinar: My exhibition in Time Space Existence in Venice is my second solo show outside Israel (the first was in Torino in 2022), so for me this is a huge step forward exposing my art to greater audiences around the world. Moreover, the creativity of the whole event, meetings with other artists coming from many countries as well seeing the diverse public visiting the exhibitions, all are extremely inspiring.
I would like to thank my curators Vera Pilpoul and Ermanno Tedeschi that curated both exhibitions in Italy.
ECC Team: What can visitors expect to find in your exhibition in Palazzo Mora? In what way do the works relate to the concept of Time Space Existence?
Ami Shinar: The exhibition in Palazzo Mora provides a glimpse to my two fields of creativity: Art and Architecture. The urban transformation I depict in my paintings in the Tel Aviv series is directly linked also to my architectural work. After all, myself and my partner Amir Mann (Mann-Shinar Architects) create new buildings and renovate urban environments. Two examples: the new Ramon Airport we designed in the Negev Desert and recently the new National Library of Israel (in collaboration with Herzog & de Meuron) in Jerusalem. We also work in dilapidated urban areas in transformation, like the scenes I paint as an artist. Our actions, both artistic and architectural, relate to the Time Space Existence concept, making our worlds better through art and humanism.
ECC Team: Tel Aviv is rapidly transforming; the old fabrics may be gradually replaced by new extravagant skyscrapers. How are you showcasing the city’s different sides?
Ami Shinar: My Urban Works depict the immense urban (as well as social) transformation occurring in my city. Practically it occurs all over most of the globe as the urban population is growing. Tel Aviv is just one example where numerous new skyscrapers overshadow the old human-scale built fabric. This is a controversial issue which I am also aware of as an architect. But we cannot forget that the urban essence is its people. Walking in the marginal neighbourhoods of my city while drawing old houses that carry memories, as well as people’s faces, some of them are “transparent” work immigrants, this is art with a subtle social statement. My Political Works, also set in the urban space, show the fierce demonstrations held in Tel Aviv during the last three years and those that have erupted again this year. For me this is an urban happening of the profound democratic foundation of the city.
ECC Team: Your practice spans different disciplines, from painting to architectural projects. How do these two sides coexist? Is your architectural practice influenced by your art practice?
Ami Shinar: As an architect I often make the first sketches by hand, a disappearing skill in the age of computer design and upcoming worlds of AI. In my aquarelles one can see the swift drawing lines from which I construct the overall composition and the sense of the place. As an artist I get inspired by urban and architectural subjects, like the many masterful Bauhaus buildings of the “White City” of Tel Aviv. These two seemingly different occupations feed each other. I think that in my “urban paintings” we can certainly see the hand of the architect behind.
ECC Team: Political issues are central in your work. Could you expand on that?
Ami Shinar: I started painting the vast demonstrations against our government already in 2020, they were mainly against the Prime Minister’s conduct. But this year (2023) my country is facing a severe constitutional crisis, initiated by the same PM. The unprecedented demonstrations, in which I am involved body and soul, are now against the new government’s threat to undermine Democracy from within. One of these mass protest iconic manifestations are the “Handmaid Tale” parades, the women in red, following the Canadian author Margaret Atwood’s book and TV drama. I painted these colorful parades, and some are shown in my exhibition at Palazzo Mora. I also noticed that most of the talks among visitors in the exhibition opening were around these “political” works.
These days I am working intensively on a new series of paintings depicting the many faces of this ongoing protest. I hope to exhibit them soon in Europe. I believe that art that carries a statement of that kind may open the eyes of the viewer, apart from its pure issues of composition or technique; I have always adored political art, so here I am.
Check out the exhibition trailer here.