"Because Man is a Tree of the Field"
Miri Krimolovsky, Art Critic and Curator, 2007
When observing the bronze sculpture of a woman which Sara Knoll created, it appears that, through it, you can grasp the entire essence of her work. An elongated, thin-spine figure, with a stomach and chest that look very containing and fertile, a tiny head whose details are highlighted merely by contours, and something that the figure carries on its back and is reminiscent of wings. This is the essence – the need to be connected to the here and now, to reality, to the land, while at the same time, perhaps float, escape, be between heaven and earth. This essence of her work has a direct link to one of Natan Zach's poems, whose verse "man is a tree of the field" - taken from the Biblical Book of Deuteronomy - constitutes its foundation.
The major theme in Zach's poem is that man is a guest in this world, just like a tree. He grows, yet is also cut down; strives to reach the heavens, yet is also consumed by fire; asks for water, but often remains thirsty. He merges from ashes, but is also returned to them and, ultimately, says the poet: "And I don't know where I've been and where I'm going to, like a tree in the field." This essence, which in general reflects about man's existence in our world, is the foundation of Knoll's work, although it's invariably just implied.
The figures Sara Knoll has sculpted have always looked as if they've emerged from a trunk buried in the ground, sort of stem-like figures, yet determined and deep-rooted in the soil. As if they're eternally connected to the place where they stand.
In her present series of figures, it appears that the link between man and tree is stronger than ever and that they've become one. With respect to each and every figure, it's hard to judge where the trunk ends and where the body begins, where the body begins and where the face does. These figures go back and forth between the abstract and the figurative, virtually creating a new human being. Knoll's work undoubtedly shifts between extremes - between the abstract and the figurative, between the soft and the hard, between the line and the blot, between the worldly and the ethereal, between the concrete and the imaginary.
Her sculpted figures, made of bronze, look like they're made of a soft material, practically plasticine. The traces of her fingers working with the material are obvious to any observer, yet the sculptures are very erect, almost like memorials.
Knoll manages to generate a flow between the unwavering line - the "treeish-bodily" line and the contour of the nose that serves as its echo - and the round and soft shape that contains the fruits of the tree and of one's thoughts. Furthermore, the patina (the color of the bronze) is not the standard color of bronze (brown, green, etc.) and shifts as well between different shades, constituting an added tier of the diffusion flowing between the human and the "tree-like." Knoll's tree figures are perpetually devoid of branches of arms, and most of their expression derives from the geometric shapes of the slab in which they're embedded.
In the series of paintings that she's created, "treeish" - human figures once again emerge from the abstract shapes - circles, ellipses, and other amorphous forms. Like in the sculptures, it appears as if the objects come from within the work and not from any precise planning. Many of the paintings evoke influences of Rafi Lavie and Yair Garboz - blots of paint smeared in layers and on top of them using a thin line, a delicate drawing. Merely a contour. Layers, layers of paint, blots and etchings, which both cover and conceal. In the paintings, her tree figures assume a very airy image. Here they are unfettered and appear to be floating in space, yet, at the same time, are implanted within it.
Knoll, a painter, sculptor and designer, creates special contexts between the two-dimensional and the three-dimensional. In this manner she creates photographs from her sculptures in which she "frolics" between the negative and the positive, between the image and its shadow, between dark and light, between movement and being frozen in time. In her series of "stemmed" sculptures, iron sculptures cut by a laser beam and reminiscent of paper cuttings, or even of silhouette theater, she once again creates a dialog the something and the nothing, between the empty and the full.
Overall, it appears that Knoll's current exhibition takes the observer on a journey, a journey into the "treeishness" within him, a journey into himself.