Peaceful be Your Return O Lovely Bird, from Warm Lands Back to My Window
by Uma Prakash
New Delhi. Israeli artist Achia Anzi has been living in India for the last 10 years. His poignant one man exhibition at Threshold Gallery titled Peaceful be Your Return O Lovely Bird, from Warm Lands Back to My Window reveals his sensitivity to both his own country and India. The title is quoted from the famous Zionist poet Chaim Nahman Bialik, well known for his long, nationalistic poems. The poet addresses an imaginary bird that migrated from Palestine to his window; expressing his loneliness, the cold of exile and longing to return to the Promised Land. The artist who has grown up hearing Bialik's poems manipulates his own artistic ability to create an exhibition that takes him closer to Israel, his land of birth. Anzi displays his powerful, perceptive works in several layers. He uses the bird very effectively in different situations; lying on the floor with broken wings, caged in barbed wire and suspended at various places with blood stains on its wings, depicting the oppression in the state of Israel.
The most powerful piece is the image of the pigeon lying helplessly on the ground with words from the Bialik's poem written in front. It is the artist's skill and attention to detail that creates the drama. Painstakingly shaped in metal and painted in tin sheet the artist creates a larger than life like image of the bird.
Anzi uses the birds to reflect different aspects of life with deep implications. While the bird is seen caged in barbed wires in one piece on another occasion it is found standing on top of its cage in Untilted. The artist cleverly uses scrap iron to give the feeling of the overgrown grass. It appears that although the gate of the cage is broken the bird returns to it.
The artist has made a thought provoking installation titled Hourglass where he has enclosed a bunker with a barbed wire structure in front. Sandbags act as walls as man's protection. As time is the essence the artists uses a quote from India's famous Urdu poet Ghalib here. “Time is dead and eternal at the same time. You cannot go back in time but time is always moving.” Resonating a philosophy that is relevant today. It also reflects Zionism and social oppression in the state of Israel.
It is the artist's journey into self discovery and experiment that surfaces in Bird What Do You Sing, Somebody Else Sings From Your Throat- The title is from the poem of Yona Wollach. In the installation the artist tells of another tale. The head of the bird is in the ground (fear, quest for roots, withdrawnness), hidden in the sand trying to hide from reality or wanting to deny it. The pipes carry no water, surrounded by sand bags (security) walls. This work is symbolic of man's refusal to accept his circumstances.
There is another interesting work titled and God Said Let There Be Light, a dramatic diptych. Here the artist quotes from the bible, from the creation of the world (Genesis). On one part he places a rotten apple and two fallen candle holders, which are lighted by the Jews on Friday evening, welcoming the Sabbath. On the 2nd part, the artist has abstract painting, conveying a feeling of chaos and confusion. The artist plays with light and darkness, in context of religion, exile and the Zionist criticism of the Jewish tradition.
In this exhibition the artist has shown that some deep things can be conveyed more effectively by his work than mere words.