Philippe Pasqua / Memento Mori
Curator: Yaron Haramati / Text: David Ben David

Zemack Contemporary Art proudly invites you to the solo exhibition of the internationally renowned artist, Philippe Pasqua. The gallery’s entire space is devoted to the exhibition, selected by Haaretz as one of the most anticipated exhibitions of the year. A number of site-specific monumental sculptures will be shown on the ground floor: a statue of a chrome T-Rex, Pasqua’s renowned bronze skulls, and life-size bronze olive and bonsai trees. Additionally, the exhibit will portray new oil on canvas and mixed media paintings, as well as photographic prints. The exhibition encompasses works from all of Pasqua’s forms of media.

Over three thousand years ago, the prophet Moses described Israel as “a good land… a land of olive oil” (Deuteronomy 8 7-8). Indeed the olive tree still grows in this land, an almost indestructible tree that sprouts new shoots in the ground even when hewn. Most of the tree’s mass is concealed from the eye for the secret of its sturdiness and renewal lies in its roots. The tree’s roots extend six meters into the ground, allowing the tree to stand firm before drought and to produce centuries upon centuries of olives, even when the tree seems like nothing but an ancient shell. This is the idea – of sturdiness and longevity – that Pasqua wishes to breathe into his colossal olive trees, faithful to their source and fabricated in the likeness of Israel: tortured yet full of life, drawing their ancient strength from their roots, their people.

In the words of the biblical God, the olive tree becomes a symbol of hope and of eternity. God answers fearful man thus: “Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table” (Psalms 128 3). Even Job, who desired release from his earthly pain despite the great unknown that follows death, saw in the olive tree hope for revival when he said: “For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease” (Job 14 7). The olive tree may be cut down and yet remain living, a symbol of hope for life after death.

Here too, Philippe Pasqua is attentive to the message of hope that these bold skeletons send us from the heights of their treetops, ceaselessly renewing their branches. The skulls lie beneath the trees and yet death does not conquer; indeed, just as if they were ghosts, the skulls jealously observe the proud treetops. Through an artistic as well as spiritual act, the artist wishes to make us feel, in our flesh and in our spirit, the alliance between suffering and triumph, between life and death, between despondency and hope – of a tree, of a people, of a country.


Interview with Philippe Pasqua for i24News