Shy Abady- Radu Klapper, Hanna Coman, January 2012 – from Radu’s catalogue

Shy Abady – Radu Klapper
Hana Coman

In his present exhibition, “Radu”, Shy Abady continues his confrontation with the Israeli cultural pantheon. Radu Klapper, a poet, writer, homosexual, cultural critic, and librarian in the dance library, never received glory in his life or memory in his death and is known to very few. Abady draws his image into the light and exposes the biography of a man of culture and an eternal émigré in Israel. By placing forgotten Radu on center stage, Abady challenges instant culture, its forgetfulness and shallowness of thought, restoring the halo to its deserving owner.

In his book “Unwilling Jews”, Radu Klapper quotes Lydia Flem: “With Sigmund Freud I realized that savagery is human and that culture is a boundless mission, never ending, like love or writing”. Abady carries on this mission in his art, as if responding to an edict bestowed upon him by Radu. He burns the life cycle of an individual on uniform panels (120X90cm.) made of various types of woods. Each type of wood captures a distinct period in life. Thus, the qualities of the birch, poplar and plywood establish a dialogue with the images of the baby, the adolescent, the young man and the worn-out senior.
Abady’s wood-burning technique captures the two moments of destruction and construction. The torching, which annihilates the material substance, creates the image. The more he burns, the deeper he delves into the details: the wrinkle, laughter and sarcasm, the moods, and the aspirations of an individual who also has a totalizing and destructive side. The technique enables Abady to turn Radu’s life story into a metaphor. The older the image gets the more spiritual it becomes. The full, sharp image of a smiling child in the center of the frame slowly fades as years go by. As it matures the image is condensed into a head, the burning lines fading into the wood so that its hair merges into the surface, and floats without a body in space.

In addition to the painted biography, Abady etches quotes from Radu’s poems, as if planting into the wood words which were not read in his printed books. The lyrics are inseparable from the image: they form a sweater, a mark in the landscape, and they shape Radu as a medal – as an immortal cultural hero.

The series concludes with a single oil painting: an eloquent portrait, precise and classic, of a man who finally received his well-deserved status. Thus Abady fulfills his promise to remember his spiritual teacher and soul mate.