izhar patkin
Palagonia 1990
1 large scale sculpture in wax
13 perforated photographs of the sculpture
1 perforated buddha photograph

Inspired by the Villa Palagonia in Sicily and Bernini’s Ectasy of Santa Theresa in Rome.
The show consisted of both a sculpture and its photo representations in an ethereal play of white on white. A white wax sculpture in the center of the gallery was surrounded by 13 perforated photographs. The photos depicted details of the white wax sculpture, which were photographed against various white lace backgrounds.
Table of Contents:
1. Palagonia: the sculpture
2. Palagonia: the prints
3. Portrait of a Bust installation views
4. Portrait of a Bust text by Edith deAk!
5. The Credo my Ghosting Process text by Izhar Patkin
6. related work and installations

Palagonia: the sculpture
wax, gold leaf, wood, and mixed media, 52” x 108” x 72”
(click images for larger view)
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Palagonia: the prints
perforated C prints, (edition 3), 63” x 50”

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Portrait of a Bust 1989
Installation views at M Galleria d’arte, Firenze
Tom, 1985
wax, tulle, plaster
51 x 25 x 28 cm.

left to right:

Rosario, 1989
perforated C prints, (edition 3), 63” x 50”

Tom/Mot, 1989
perforated C prints, (edition 3), 63” x 50”

Mot/Tom, 1989
perforated C prints, (edition 3), 63” x 50”


    Rosario, 1985
wax, tulle, plaster
65 x 46 x 35 cm.



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by Edit deAk!
catalog published by M Galleria d'arte, Firenze, 1989

I love all this gargoyle stuff. The imaging
of the spirit world; masks, mirages, shadows,
refractions, ghosts, grotesques, grisailles,
etc. -- These interfaces of intangibilities
get their only chance at existing for
real, as an image. I am wildly jealous of my
hinterland of mercurial manifestations, so if
anyone cups to it, they better live up to the

 With his title, Patkin decidedly sets up
forcelines of his work with "The Villa Palagonia"
of the specially Baroque Sicily. Palagonia
-- I don't know what the name
stands for (but it sounds so pretty), sounds
like a country of its own, a realm, a realm
which is a villa. It is in the village of Bagheria
(sounds like little buggers...).

 Atop the wall enclosing the villa are grotesque
sculptural gargoyles with a dubious dual
function. Their strange appearance is to repel
the evil eye. Yet, they are quite attractive
as they are absorbed in the pleasures of frolicking
and dancing, having fun at their bac-
chanalia. This odd duality, Patkin identifies
with the "stuff of art". Creativity and inspiration
are odd phenomena. In this sense,
these creatures are the embodiment of imagination

  "Tom" was sculpted in 1985, in wax over
a bust. This found armature is internalized
by externally applying layers of wax veils to
it. Endowed with four faces, "Tom" is a
double/double Janus. There is the front visage
of right side up and upside down portraits,
and the mask on the back of the head
reads upside down and right side up as well.
The topsy-turvy gravity is spun around its
center with a tulle tutu and tied down with
a bowed ribbon to a work easle - the sort
which is used in the studio by the sculpting
trade. This choice of pedestal belies Parkin's
attitude that if it can hold up the creative
process, it can hold up the result - it can
take responsibility in its presentation. The
notion of presentation of the creative process
pops up frequently elsewhere in the

  "Rosario", made in 1987, is again in wax
over a plaster armature of a vessel -- urnlike
(if you are religious-minded) or Sarnovarish
(if that's your cup of tea). Atop and
around this sculpture are praying hands and
roses. And, if that doesn't make it a very
curious object, "Rosario" is also enrobed in
a multi-sleeved pellerine of tulle with lace,
ribbon, embroidery and bows.

  In 1989 this repertoire of wax sculptures
was staged for photographic tableaux in the
spirit of the painters of grisaille, who translated
white marble statues into trompe l'oeil
tableaux. There is still that all-important issue
of what point of view to photograph a

sculpture from; involving the severe editing
of a 3-d thing, the photograph really determines
the sculpture. That's the usual contention.
But, "Tom" and "Rosario" are so photogenic
and seem to project so many perfect
2-d pictures that one might think that their
primary function is not in their objecthood
but to generate endless imagery.

 For their photo portraits, being the picture
perfect models that they are, the sculptures
are in poised synchrony with their backdrop
of white Victorian lace of ivy and peacocks.
This curtain motif echos the tulle outfits.
And, to really pull the punches on the issue
of seeing through, there is a third level of
reverberation as the large scale photographs
are literally perforated in an all over pattern.
These elusive grisaille "photo-screens" shimmer
with a kind of waxy surface as if covered
with a thin layer of translucent vaseline,
like Leonardo's gentle sheen, so sublime
-- in their effects, like a truly great
painting. Although they are photos, with
lots of respectable fancy footing of their
own medium, I still sense from them an
overwhelmingly delicate pale chiaroscuro of

And they are really painterly. They feel like
beautiful great paintings inspite of being
photographic, and of sculputure, and perforated
and on paper and collaged and melanged
and dipped and shredded and lit and
discolored and reversed and cropped and
blown up and pinned and all... Visually,
they acheive an almost Rubenesque painterly
breath of quality in the way that the portraits
of the wax portraits look like oil paintings
with all their inner light releasing itself.
Izhar: They really represent my fear of

 Edit: I was astonished to see these pieces
because your trade mark has been to
go through extraordinary lengths to
remove yourself from your work, to
play hide and seek in a maze of techniques
commonly characterized by the
way they were enabling you not to
paint. You have set up a multidimensional
labyrinthian system to
avoid the direct touch (the primal expression).
What is intriguing in this
new work is that you are utilizing
those very process-vocabularies of
avoidence and yet, you have created
something extraordinary in the language
of painting.
But I must stop this elation so I can quickly
get in what I consider the true punch line
of these pieces. It is magic how all of this
comes out of the hat as this icon rabbit.
These images are actuaily icons! Patkin
somehow made an icon out of something
which is not supposed to be one. It is an
icon of a ghost!

by Izhar Patkin
catalog published by M Galleria d'arte, Firenze, 1989

  The wax phase of sculpting is where the
creative process nestles. Later, it is the job
of the artisan -- the other side of the craft.
It is the stage of the not yet presentable. It
is the private, the intimate and the vulnerable
phase (also that which gets thrown
away). It is the soul of sculpting, not the
commodity of it.

  When you go inward, there is a darkness
from which a kind of albinoness comes out.
Light hasn't developed the image yet. There
is no chlorophyll. It is before it hits the proverbial
"photo" -- the notion of an amorphous
kind of being born, not fully molded
as you reach in and pull on it. The features
show this (mellow)drama of pulling and tugging
(witness the grimace of Tom's face) not
quite firmly set . You are literally formulating
the shape, developing the albino
image from the dark into the light, regurgitating
these figments of your image-ination.
I celebrate and protect the artistic process
in the way the grotesques of Palagonia trasform
their predicament to celebrate the mysterious
oddity of creation. I want my icons
to be the embodiment of these apparitions
which we call inspiration.

  Against the diligent modernist and postmodernist
stream which throws away and
loses the baby (the icon) with the water (inspiration)
for the sake of higher "objective"
formalisms of a new improved reality, for
me, there is no lost wax process.

  I want a nice formalist ghost (...), seamless
and ethereal, one that symbolizes passing
through the wall that seperates us, so that
it no longer excludes but becomes a point
of exchange. A soft seductive invitation. On
the wall of the villa, the grotesques -- first
a put off... quickly dissolve to be the benign
types; the strange "other" calls for play. I
want everything! And, I want it à la mélange!