A real celebration of Nissan Engel was overdue.
The Israeli artist has been met with acclaim all his life, but recently this has translated into an extraordinary and dynamic revealing of a number of works. Having passed in 2016, Engel’s work has become the subject of fascination and renewed appreciation- a lasting development. Engel’s life has been markedly great: his affinity for music and movement as well as set design, eventually commissioned to do a number of stained-glass windows around New York and Maryland before living his life in Paris.
It was this intersection that lead to a lifelong interest in collage. In this moment, Engel’s work took a far more textural and engaged form- one suddenly obsessed with moody and troubling views- a curiosity for collage that leads the viewer to engage with the work in a way that forces unknown elements to becomes known and accepted within context. It goes without saying (perhaps) that this engagement has no end: Engel’s spaces are often (perhaps contrarily) tightly contained; like a machine, bloodied and thick; pastes feel subject to Engel’s furor in the moment of creation. Confidence does not wane- rather it is totally enhanced but this sheer conviction and emotivism. Engel does not avoid nor explain: it is truly aesthetic. But the potential is offered in a way that lets the viewer obsess with him.
Guests at the Laub townhouse were indeed obsessed. Drawing the likes of Stacey Engman, Micky Engel (Nissan’s widow), Michael Bolla joined by Alexandra Engel, Catherine Betz, Catherine Feric, Claudine Malone, Dillan Brant, Doreen Remen, Emma Snowdon Jones, Kenneth Laub, Leila Heller, Marie Dominique, Sol Black, Shula Bahat and many more.
Patrons appreciated Engel’s training in Bezalel, entitling him to experiment and explore the medium of collage for his work. What is remarkable is Engel’s traditional study- tapping classical apprenticeships before securing himself as an experimental and polarizing artist. But those who believe in him have shown a great deal of support.