The subjects of Samuel Ziskind's seasoned paintings are bound to his life and surroundings. He coherently refers to subjects such as sites and people from his past, both near and far. Ziskind, who is a former civil servant, is a multi-channel artist that has been painting for over 50 years, as well as writing, and has recently realized his long-held dream of learning to play the piano.
The Haifa born artist is self-taught, and has never formally studied art, but has been creating works of art for decades, and continues to search, to develop and to progress on his diverse and interesting creative path.
Intuitively, and with a unique talent for observation, he follows in the footsteps of preeminent artists such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Jackson Pollock and Matisse, while in parallel developing a personal style all his own, with his personal iconography.
He works in series, with each series having a common denominator, such as the ladder motif that appears in his works from the late 1970s, or the squares motif belonging to a later period.
His paintings are characterized by their structured compositions and chromatic colorfulness. Thematically, the works can be classified into categories such as likenesses of people, landscapes, flowers and abstract paintings. The portraits or likenesses category includes both people from his past such as Eva, a painting from 1971, as well as imaginary people such as the Monk from 1959, or figures that express an emotion, such as another early work entitled Anger dating back to 1959. In these likenesses, his gift for drawing and sketching is especially notable, and his ability to convey characteristics, emotions and sensations. His landscapes depict Jerusalem, where he lived for many years, and Tel Aviv, to which he moved several years ago. His Tel Aviv landscapes include paintings of the Yarkon River and its surroundings, as well as the view from his balcony. He recently also painted a black and white oil painting of the Jordan river estuary near Degania, where he served in his youth before moving to Kibbutz Gonen.
Ziskind's flower paintings are merry and powerful, and the vases in which they are shown reflect the vases in his home, that he paints as he sees them or develops them according to the painting's chromatic array.
In parallel to his figurative works, Ziskind also paints abstracts, such as the dynamic spirals painting (Internal Flow, 1974) that is reminiscent of the paintings of Robert Delaunay. Over the last years, he has focused primarily on abstract paintings ranging from expressive abstract to geometric abstract. His geometric abstracts speak to the later paintings of the father of abstract art, Wassily Kandinsky. Ziskind recounts: "I am returning to the ruler and compass after many years of neglect, since my time at the Bosmat Vocational School next to the Technion in Haifa".
A persistent element throughout the various periods of his career is the grid – the network of crisscrossing lines that creates squares. Black and white squares began to appear far back, in an early surreal painting, where they served as the floor and also signified the squares of a chessboard. They continued to appear and dominate, to a greater or lesser extent, many of Ziskind's other works. There is an entire series of works in which squares are the very essence of the paintings, and appear in different combinations and different colors. The squares are typically flat, with the exception of one painting created following a visit to Berlin, and his impression of the Holocaust Memorial – with the visual illusion of depth and sometimes movement in the Op-Art style, that is created by a combination of colors and shapes. Even the frame around the Press Communique, that accompanied his 2009 exhibition at Shorashim Gallery in Tel Aviv, is composed of squares, reflecting the artist's orderly character - he is prepared to fly on the wings of colors and shapes, but always returns to the safe harbor of the square.
Wassily Kandinsky, the father of abstract art, wrote in 1909 in his treatise entitled On the Spiritual in Art about abstract art, and compared colors to sounds, and the process of creation to playing the piano, with the eye playing on the color and the sound vibrating inside us. Samuel Ziskind prefers the creative process that is expressed in abstract paintings: through a process of trial and error, painting and erasing, he places patches of colors, covers them, and creates something new. As an artist that has mastered precise and lush painting with rich colors, Samuel Ziskind attained artistic success and achievements, while enjoying the unknown and expressing his internal world that is linked to his personal life. His painting "Candy Tree", for instance, that was painted in 2009, is a semi-abstract, joyous painting that is rich in colors, is a belated reference to an episode from his past, as is true of another painting, from 1972, entitled "She and He".
This is indeed an artist with unique observational skills, who is interesting, profound and scholarly in his approach to art.
Dr. Dalia Hakker-Orion