Born in America to Israeli parents, Aithan Shapira has always been exposed to multiple perspectives —both inherited and lived— the presence of which permeates his paintings, prints, and concrete constructions. Know From Where You Came And Where You Are Going draws its title from a translation of the Hebrew phrase dah m’ahn bata oohle’ahn ah’tah holech, which underscores the prevalent themes in Aithan’s work: migration, place-making, way-finding.
Aithan’s father is the last member of 10 generations born in Jerusalem, and his mother was a refugee from Baghdad who relocated to the camps in Ramat Gan in the 1950’s; together they immigrated to the United States, where Aithan was born.
“I watched my mother fail to replant her childhood Israeli garden for nearly thirty years in the soil and climate of our ‘temporary home’ forty kilometers west of New York City. We complete nature with feeling. ...” In Aithan’s paintings, this struggle finds new form as the artist’s paint, —a mixture of soil from the Judean Desert, olive tree ash and oil, — which gives new life to this dreamed-of garden.
Aithan’s work encourages us to consider the ways in which one object can take on different meanings. On view in Know From Where You Came And Where You Are Going is Aithan’s recent sculptural work entitled "Hope". In this series, an abandoned life preserver is recast hundreds of times in concrete: a distressing offer for those whom it is too late to save. For Aithan, the notion of hope, both its presence and its absence, is the anchor of our motives, one strong enough to spark the aspiration to end wars and the catalyst to begin them. In his concrete pieces, we find both a call to action and a challenging inability to act, a contradiction as stark as that of the material and its form.
Sabra Petals, 2013, concrete and thorns, 14” x10” x 3”.
My Grandmother’s Vases, 2015, concrete relief, 32” x 24”
Things Look More Like What They Are In Cement, 2015, concrete relief 32” x 24”