Yizhak Elyashiv: Prints and Drawings / Mary Kocol: Portals Press Release

Yizhak Elyashiv
Prints and Drawings
Mary Kocol
March 8 – 30, 2024 at Gallery NAGA

Yizhak Elyashiv: Prints and Drawings and Mary Kocol: Portals run from March 8 through 30. A reception for the artists and the public will be held at the gallery on Friday, March 8 from 5 to 7 pm.

Elyashiv is a native of Israel who has lived and worked in Providence, Rhode Island since 1991. His best-known prints, which have been shown and collected by museums throughout the country, are records of physical activity in and out of the studio, “maps” of gestures and measurements undertaken in the landscape and on his printing plates. 

The strictness and concision of marks that once used to characterize Elyashiv’s work continue to untangle in this most recent grouping of work. Many of the pieces to be shown at NAGA were made during the covid pandemic and appear as musings or meditative exercises. “Interacting with the landscape started to shift into a ritual, repetitive motion, aimless movements. A bit like a caged animal in a place where containment becomes action,” Elyashiv remarks.

The larger prints, “maps” of the landscape, are five by nine feet and are broken down into smaller sheets of paper once assembled. Based on a strict grid of two sheets high by five wide, the mark-making reads continuously from one sheet to the next. Elyashiv explains, “I try to take myself and the viewer on a voyage, but it leads to the same place, uncertainty, confusion and only repetition becomes comforting. The grid in its making, become the fabric of the landscape and at the same time it creates a rigid cage, like a containment structure.”

Elyashiv’s prints have been exhibited and collected by the Israel Museum, the British Museum, the Harvard Art Museums, the Yale University Art Gallery, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Cleveland Museum of Art, among others.

After shifting her focus for several years away from the urban twilight photographic series to her garden, Kocol is back to using beauty and composition to lure us into a narrative that is dramatic and strange. Her Portal series grew out of a trip to coastal Ireland in 2023 as an artist in residence. “The Ireland pictures are inspired by the Irish folklore idea of ‘thin places,’ a setting where heaven and earth come close to each other. A portal signifies a passage, a transformation from one place to another.” Kocol broadened this concept back at home by uncovering ‘thin spaces’ that she encountered in mysterious landscapes. The garden is sacred to Kocol, so it was only fitting to continue to include flowers.

The Irish portal work is suffused with a blue light—a window left ajar reveals a view of the ocean, one pane of the four reflecting the pink sunrise; a winding path down to the water dotted with craggy stones and a cottage during twilight with only a single yellow light emanating from the home. They are curious and strange hinting at an uninhabited world save for the remnants of a human hand.

Kocol continues in her artist statement, “Taken in the blue light of dawn or twilight, and illuminated by flashlight, there’s a search and discovery aspect in how I create these images. It can be eerie, especially in a new place, yet energizing and liberating. Drawingwith light evokes the mystery of photography and the timed exposure. I carry no technical lighting equipment, only work with ambient light, moonlight, and flashlight – searching, looking, exploring, waiting.”

Images of Elyashiv and Kocol’s work may be found at gallerynaga.com.