Past Exhibitions

The Unity of Opposites

Shir Meller-Yamaguchi

The Unity of Opposites: Hilda Merom
Curator: Shir Meller-Yamaguchi
4/2010 – 8/2010

The crude, rough stone we encounter on the side of the road is all but inanimate. A closer look reveals the idiosyncratic texture unique to each pebble, recounting its adventures on earth, which are reflected in its surface. The pebble burning in the sun in a dried creek can tell us about strong currents that swept it from afar years before and shaped its rounded face. Like the story of the pebble, the stories of our lives are swathed in changes and transformations.

In a series of sculptures created by Hilda Merom over the past three years, the dichotomies embedded in the pebble are gradually revealed. The strength conveyed by the hard stone, which is closed to the outside, changes in the course of work when it assumes whiteness, encountering a depression which invites one to penetrate into the depth of softness. Merom’s love for clay originated in her twenties. After immigrating to Israel from Argentina, she studied Art at the Tel Hai College and continued her studies in the USA. Concurrent with her sculptural practice, she engaged throughout the years in movement and Chi Qong.

The current series of sculptures articulates the encounter between motion and matter: fissures, leaks, and layers surrender the traces of processes. Initial scratching of the surface reveals remnants of gold beneath the crude layer, attesting to that which lies in the depths. Textures and colors, cracks and ash stains appearing on the surface recount infinite processes taking place over millions of years underground; a constant inner movement of conglomeration and deconstruction, dissolution and convergence.
The Unity of Opposites
The work with clay brings Merom closer to the elements: earth, water, fire, and air. The processes undergone by these elements reflect, to a large extent, the processes occurring in the human soul. The sense of dryness inherent in isolation versus the flux which contains vitality; the stability furnished by the earth versus the movement innate to water and air; the thrill in agitation and the tranquility in cooling; the sweeping, melting fire versus the air which makes for silence and open space.
In his book The Unknown Craftsman: A Japanese Insight into Beauty, the renowned Japanese potter Sosetsu Yanagi writes that when the work’s pattern conveys the laws of nature in all its scope, it is an expression of the artist’s true humility and a recognition of his freedom of creation.
The ability of the elements to leave their imprint on Merom’s work is made possible by the natural substances which she introduces into the material in the course of work, and to the saggar technique she employs for the firing of the stone series. The sculpture is fired inside a fireclay container, surrounded by natural combustibles which become imbedded in its surface to generate magnificent patterns. The technique of saggar firing, which originated in the Far East, is intended to protect the vessel from unwanted effects of the open fire and the ash. Merom, on the other hand, uses it to enhance the influences of organic materials, thereby infusing her work with the beauty of the contingent and one-off, in both the process and the result. “I don’t dominate and neither does the fire; it is the dialogue between us. I let things happen,” she says.
Merom’s work is clearly influenced by Japanese, Chinese, and Korean aesthetic perceptions and techniques. In 1999 she went to Japan to visit potter villages. In 2004 she was invited to China as a guest artist. During that sojourn she began the Stone series in which she used, for the first time, porcelain, a material which she previously identified with the Chinese refinement of ultra-thin teacups. In the installation Stone Cycle she created in China, Merom first combined the raw crudeness of the stone with the fine porcelain glazing. The white glaze, akin to gradually melting snow, was exposed, accentuating the margins of the underlying stone.
In the series of stones presented in the exhibition there is gradual transition from stone to container, from close to open form. The dent in the pebble deepens, becoming a recess in which water is collected, until it breaks out on the other side, transforming into a rounded aperture which offers a glimpse through, tying together interior and exterior. The essence revealed through the glaze, beyond one’s expectations, changes constantly. The unity of opposites is the beauty inherent in acceptance of the antithetical as complementary and regarding all things as intertwined.

Shir Meller-Yamaguchi, Curator