RAW Streetphoto Gallery in Rotterdam is known for producing conceptual exhibitions that show vibrant artworks of emerging artists. For the first seasonal exhibition of 2020, RAW Streetphoto Gallery invited Eliaz Dassa, an Israeli digital artist with a strong grounding in diverse media. Dassa moved to England to accomplish an MA in Graphic Moving Image at the London College Of Communication. Upon his arrival in Europe, Dassa embraced his background, which was pivotal for his intrinsic development. During this process, Dassa dived into the artistic scene of the British capital. RAW Streetphoto Gallery had the privilege to exhibit one of his most recent projects, “INMORTAL”. This is a series that re-introduced the Greek muscular male figure from the forgotten memories of Neoclassicism. Eliaz believes that contemporary visual arts have been absent from the abstract arena of modern art. Thus, Dassa rigorously chose an artistic methodology that consists of combining microscopic photography and sculpture to reveal the most authentic depiction of the ancient Greek male sculpture in the modern era. The ancient Greek aesthetics are meaningful because, these carry intangible knowledge about values, beauty, and goodness- also referred to as Kalokagathìa- which was once considered an oath to the humankind.
To immerse into the meaning and artistic development of INMORTAL, the team from RAW Streetphoto Gallery prepared an interview with Eliaz Dassa.
RAW Streetphoto Gallery: Before we precipitate to speak about your art itself, we are interested to know how your artistic career developed. You have accomplished an MA in Graphic Moving Image at the London College Of Communication. When was the moment that you decided you wanted to professionally study art? Also, if you could provide advice to those emerging artists that are doubting about following a professional art career, what would you tell them?
Elias Dassa: Creativity has always been a part of my life - as a child my mother had a shop for art materials and she always inspired me to create, whether it was oil painting, sculpture or just art craft. When I decided to start my academic studies, I applied first for a Graphic Design course but luckily I was not accepted and pulled into the Digital Art course in college. This turned out to be the smartest decision I ever made. I was given a toolbox to develop whatever was right for me. My master's studies in London let me develop my skills in digital media, such as animation, video, and video installations. Right after my graduation, I found an internship in a studio specialized in digital installations.
The experience led me to meet new creative people and also to develop my skills in the research process of y personal projects. During the internship, I met the British photographer
Chris Harris (who later became my partner), and was surprised to find that we were interested in the same subject in of work- the various points of view of the male body. In November 2015, we created a joint Pop Up exhibition at the LOFT128 in Shoreditch London, which was my starting point in the art world.
My advice to emerging artists is to stick to their self believe, be focused, disciplined, and do extensive research. The artworld is inherently, so it's important to be innovative and have a say as an artist.
RAW Streetphoto Gallery: Dassa has worked as an artist in two different continents. This change exposed you to diverse cultures, trends, and social issues. Do you think that moving from Tel Aviv to London changed your perspective about art? Maybe of your own art?
ED: During my studies in Tel Aviv, I created art projects that were directly inspired by my Israeli and Middle Eastern backgrounds, like using the Hebrew alphabet and Arabic poems on my artworks.
I also immersed myself in the work of artists from Israel, such as projects of the video artist Ran Slavin and the artworks of the Photographers David Adika and Yair Barak.
When I moved to London, I felt that my background had been intrinsic to my development as an Artist and has provided me a unique perspective on my work and the work of my peers, whilst still learning new skills in a different cultural context. As a foreigner, I always felt frustrated that people rarely acknowledged the history of the city they live in. Therefore, as part of my research, I created two video projects, “Did you notice?” where I manipulated London’s skyline and “Bringing Dragons To Life” which tells the story of The City of London Dragon Boundary Mark history by moving images.
RAW: In the series, INMORTAL, you have devoted yourself to analyse the Greek Male Figure. Many artists struggle to find their inspiration. Throughout this artistic production, how did you come across the forgotten Neoclassical Greek muscular male figure?
ED: INMORTAL is a direct continuation of my previous exhibitions that dealt with the exploration of the male form. The main idea was to show the differing artistic approaches, competing models of masculinity, fluid ideas about the male body, nature, and the beauty of it.
Months of research have led me to sample the vast treasure of organs, tissues, and cells. I presented them as what they truly are, colorful abstract visuals combined with classical male figure sculptures in mixed media output.
Living in a world of fragmented values it does not seem odd to us that much of modern art is disturbingly ugly. Today we do not ask for an artwork to be perfect as in Greek time, we desire extreme, to highlight uniqueness, to be daring and provocative. In intended to bring the naked beauty and perfectionism back to the fore.
This body of work aims to raise awareness for the male body image, inner beauty and the importance of science. As a Visual Artist my research began after being fascinated by the wonder and beauty of the way our anatomy functions inside and out, I felt that it was a genuine shame that this is often neglected and forgotten when so much of our culture is fixated on outer beauty.
RAW: You are an artist specialised in Digital Art, how did you discover this medium of art, and how does it help you develop your artistic philosophy?
ED: When I began my Academic studies in 2008, I was a pioneer devoted to the concept of Digital Art. Twelve years later, the medium is expanding and evolving. I have visited many exhibitions and seen many Digital Art projects that have inspired me to work as a Digital Artist. As this medium evolves I feel that my exposure is intensifying as well as the field of research for creating groundbreaking art projects.
RAW: This was your first exhibition in Northern Europe. How was your experience in contrast with the English gallery industry?
ED: First of all, I'm glad to be given the opportunity to exhibit in a city I've never visited before. This allowed me to get acquainted with the Dutch culture, in an environment that is constantly evolving in the art. Despite the national differences, I think nowadays there is no difference whether you exhibit in London, Tel Aviv, or Rotterdam. Every city has a melting pot of different cultures and backgrounds, this is beautiful. Also, my profession as a Digital Artist enables me to break through mediums that did not exist in the past, causing the art world to be one global village with cultural collaborative capacity.