Past Exhibitions

Ophir ‘Pirush’ Levy

Ophir ‘Pirush’ Levy
Ophir Levy strolls around local fields and forests, drives along country roads and surveys his surroundings with keen eyes, the eyes of a huntsman. His environment summons opportunities in the form of animal skeletons, feathers, porcupine quills, shotgun shells, and a myriad of other items that serve as the raw material for his artistic practice – hybrid masks, an amalgamation of different species of animals and manmade objects. Levy’s masks combine supposedly foreign materials, crossing the line that separates nature and culture and connecting its edges.
His sensitivity to nature and the treasures it holds lead him to a practice that cherishes life and death. As in a pagan ritual of sorts, he takes apart and reassembles, slowly, taking meticulous care of each and every detail. Levy uses the basest materials, cleaning and purifying them with natural methods like immersing them in salt or burying them the ground, in a ritualistic process that he devised. The rituals he adopted over the years are a part of his everyday life, as well as his creative process. While the masks can be worn, for Levy the important thing is not the masks’ function but the act of making them. For him, making masks is a way of life, like gardening, and both are imbued with his love of nature and the cyclicality of life.
Levy is particularly fascinated with faces, gazes, and eyes – a fascination through which he came to creating masks. He feels a natural connection to animism (the attribution of a soul to different natural elements) and shamanistic rituals aimed at connecting with the spirits of nature. Like shamans in various cultures, who wear a mask in the form of the spirit they wish to invoke, Levy also wears his mask, lights a fire, and rejoices with what happens next. According to him, simply wearing the mask generates a moment of transformation: “It is amazing how quickly the personality changes. If I put on a mask and make a scary sound, I am no longer Ophir, I am already a different character. I metamorphose.”
In the modern world, wearing a mask is often associated with an acknowledgment of the different identities that comprise the individual. The mask allows the wearer to shed his or her everyday personality, let go of personal and social inhibitions that come with it, and make room for other latent identities to come to the fore. However, Levy is not interested in that particular aspect, but rather in the ritualistic dimension. His masks embody his mental state. They form an archive of sorts, storing thoughts and emotions that he expresses in a way that only he alone can decipher.
Levy does not define himself as an artist. He studied landscape architecture and works as a gardener. He started creating his masks a decade ago and had recently started making sculptures.