“What is most modern in our time frequently turns out to be the most archaic.” Guy Davenport
This is the first solo exhibition in the United States of the work of Israeli-based artist Rina Kimche (born 1934). Kimche’s diminutive sculptures are modern in their reductive, abstract simplicity and in their expression of the material essence of their clay medium. As they resonate with the work of Minimalist and Postminimalist artists such as Eva Hesse, Michelle Stuart, and Richard Tuttle, Kimche’s sculptures powerfully evoke a primordial past in which human beings had only just learned to fashion vessels and tools from clay. Kimche’s works are rooted in not only the historic forms and styles of eastern Mediterranean clay artifacts, but also the tactile sensations of this dry, rocky land.
Kimche’s art grew out of a current in Israeli Modernism that evolved in the early years of the nation when new immigrants searched for an identity distinct from their diasporic history and rooted in the character and culture of the Middle East. Steeped in the imagery, forms, colors, and materials of the region, her work reaches beyond to embrace a more global range of cultural references. Years spent living in West Africa and Japan, as well as a formative period studying in the United States, exposed Kimche to aesthetics and techniques that continue to inform her work and endow it with a complex sensibility that feels simultaneously personal and universal.
Even as Kimche’s sculptures evoke an ancient past, they simultaneously allude to an apocalyptic future of fragments and shards. These are haunted objects that tell us of difficult times to come. In this sense, Kimche is an anti-Romantic. Her ambiguous, distressed objects evoke not the sublime awe of the classical ruin but the abject melancholy of our present, broken world.