The exhibition “Regrowth” is devoted to the new series of sculptures created between 2010 and 2013 by the glass artist Lior Vagima. The nine sculptures on exhibit depict, with the delicacy that characterizes Vagima’s work, elements from the world ...The exhibition “Regrowth” is devoted to the new series of sculptures created between 2010 and 2013 by the glass artist Lior Vagima. The nine sculptures on exhibit depict, with the delicacy that characterizes Vagima’s work, elements from the world of plants. Thus, defining his sculptures as still-lifes gathers additional force. Sculpting in glass further strengthens the sense that he is portraying the moment in nature that is materially frozen like a moment that is immortalized in photography, not only motionless but also fragile. The scorched appearance of the plant sculptures is well-suited to the French term nature morte (literally, “dead nature” but rendered in English as “still life”). From here it is only a short way to reading the sculptures before us as vanitas, in the tradition of the symbolic still-life paintings that evolved in the Low Countries in the 16th and 17th centuries. The message of vanitas is invariably memento mori – a reminder of mortality. In artworks like these, various symbols serve to remind us of the transience of life, starting with elements from nature whose lifespan is limited, such as flowers and plants, fruits and vegetables and encompassing skulls, musical instruments and candles.
Vagima’s botanical sculptures are suspended between growing and perishing, between strength and softness, between the colorful richness concealed within the glass prisms and their murky appearance. While they do recall the inevitability of death, they do not renounce the vibrancy of life. In these sculptures, Vagima infuses new life into elements that burnt out or withered away and endows them with regrowth, as reflected in the name of this exhibition.
Lior Vagima materially expresses his ideas through a variety of glass-working techniques. In the lampworking technique, for example, glass rods are melted using a burner, while glass casting is done in a way similar to the casting of other sculpting materials, such as bronze. Sometimes Vagima combines various techniques in a single sculpture, a feat that attests to his virtuosity in glass-working. This is also evidence of his ability to combine glass and other materials, such as wood and cement, as can be seen in some of the sculptures. The works displayed in the current exhibition were all created using the traditional lampworking technique, which endowed the artist with wide-ranging flexibility and the possibility of sculpting small, delicate details like the veins of a leaf or the tip of a thorn.
This technique is mostly used for the creation of tiny sculptures but Vagima’s superb artistry provides him with the freedom to use it to create the large formats we see here. This intensifies the tension between the sculptures’ large dimensions and their innate fragility.