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Disconnected Medium

2016, Hassid Gallery, Jerusalem, Israel.

Group exhibition with industrial design students, to reimagine bonsai as a platform for contemporary artistic expression.

Artists: Ofer Grunwald, Itamar Conforti, Matan Rosen, Emilya Gladun, Avi Pashnov

Curator: Ofer Grunwald

Bonsai is a transformative, process-focused artform of living tree sculpture. It originated in China and Japan, where over the centuries it played a role similar to that of traditional European landscape painting. The use of a living medium – which constantly grows, develops and changes – makes bonsai a unique and fascinating artform.

Disconnected Medium breaks free of the traditional restrictions of bonsai display. The exhibition was born from the assumption that if personal artistic statement is to be found through the manner of the trees’ display, then adhering to foreign limitations and traditions is by definition artificial. Every member of our group interpreted bonsai in their own way, and was free to draw inspiration from Japanese tradition and aesthetics, the various facets of bonsai as an artform, the physical aspects of the medium, and the trees themselves.


disconnected medium - tefillin.jpg


By: Ofer Grunwald

The piece focuses on the visual similarity between bonsai wires, used to direct and shape the branches, and the leather bands of the Jewish tefillin, wrapped around one’s body. The piece explores various aspects of similarity between these worlds, through the language of the traditional bonsai display, comprising three elements – tree, companion object, and scroll – positioned in an asymmetrical arrangement.

disconnected medium - hanging tree.jpg


By: Itamar Conforti

The origin of Bonsai stems from the attempt to bring nature indoors, into the home. The piece examines the relationship between urbanism and bonsai, city and nature. This symbiotic relationship is delicate and easily pushed off balance. The neighborhood depicted, Rassco, Jerusalem, is simplified but is specific to the place, the tree and the artist, thus rendering the view personal and non-objective.

disconnected medium - modernist tokonoma

Brutalist Tokonoma

By: Matan Rosen

In Japan, a traditional home’s interior design adheres to a strict minimalist sensibility. As such, a special recess is set aside in one of walls for displaying artistic and designed objects, and which serves as the artistic center of the home – the tokonoma. This work re-examines the components of the classic tokonoma, expressing traditional Japanese minimalism in Western form and in the brutalist architectural style.

disconnected medium - emiliya

Untitled (deconstructed tokonoma with video art)

By: Emilya Gladun

Bonsai is a by-product of human manipulation, of an invisible hand directing and dictating the tree’s movement and form. Using every-day objects, and elements from the traditional Japanese tokonoma display, the work questions the relationship between human intervention and the nature of an object seen always ‘a moment after’ such intervention..

disconnected medium - avi.jpg


By: Avi Pashnov

This is a piece from a series created in homage to the artist and teacher, Prof. Shaul Serri (1928-2014), a founding father and joint-head of the Bezalel Jewelry Department, and a cornerstone of jewelry-working in Israel.

A piece of a 350 year old olive, referencing both life and Jerusalem, is set in a copper bowl by the Hebrew words ‘Rak Adam Hai’ – Only a Living Man / Only Man Lives. The letters were cut in the Gnuzot font, which Shaul used frequently in his works, while the words are taken from the passage “Only a living man of creative spirit sees radiant visions”, from Boris Shatz’s book Jerusalem Rebuilt.


disconnected medium - pendulum.jpg


By: Ofer Grunwald

Cinder block pendulum, in constant danger of hitting the tree.

On August 30, 2016, while disassembling a private exhibition, two of the most important and significant trees from my collection – fell. In addition to two vintage Japanese pots, years of searching for these trees, obtaining them, rehabilitating them, and designing them – were dashed in an instant. This piece relives the experiences of that day.



By: Itamar Confortil

The olive tree displayed in this piece is 1500 years old. It was slated to become firewood, but was rescued and made into an art work. The sculpture focuses on the unique shape of this tree, the relationship between nature and modern culture, and our definition of what constitutes trash and what is worthy of preservation.


Untitled (kinetic installation)

By: Ofer Grunwald

Aluminum cube connected to opposite motors, with wires always twisting and untwisting at the same time. Cube and tree remain static

A bonsai is a dynamic object, which is in a state of perpetual flux. The tree is always moving between cycles of random growth, and intentional design, with each cycle both stemming from its predecessor and undoing it. This piece focuses on these ever-present yet hidden processes, and the tension between them and the apparently static moment.

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