Ina Aruetty, As Nature. Gedula Ogen, exh. cat., Beit Aharon Kahana Gallery – The Ramat Gan Museums of Art, Ramat Gan (February 3-April 20, 1996), Ramat Gan, Beit Aharon Kahana Gallery – Ramat Gan Museums, 1996→
Ofrat, Gideon, “The Beginnings of Israeli Ceramics”, Ariel, A Review of Arts and Letters in Israel, n° 90, 1992, p. 75-95
Gedula Ogen – As Nature, Beit Aharon Kahana Gallery – The Ramat Gan Museums of Art, Ramat Gan, February 3-April 20, 1996→
Sculpture in Clay – Gedula Ogen, The Ceramic Pavilion, Museum Haaretz, Tel Aviv, 1974→
Gedula Ogen – Exhibition, Maskit 6 Gallery, Tel Aviv, 1967
Israeli sculptor and ceramic artist.
Gedula Ogen is part of the second generation of Israeli ceramic artists. Daughter of Joseph Schweig (1905-1985), a well-known photographer who documented the archaeological digs of 1930s and 1940s in Palestine, G. Ogen recounts that she used to spend time as a child at these excavations. After graduating in 1952 from the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem, her connection to archaeology pushed G. Ogen to approach Hedwig Grossman Lehmann (1902-1998), one of the first local Israeli ceramic artists, who used local earth and natural colours for her works, and she joined her studio in 1953. H. Grossman Lehmann’s palette and materials, along with G. Ogen’s memories of archaeological digs, influenced G. Ogen. Her vases and animal figures from the late 1950s, for instance, were created using the traditional technique of the potter’s wheel, coated with earth paints, and fired in an open flame.
In the early 1960’s, G. Ogen turned from small clay pieces to the creation of monumental reliefs for public spaces. These works, which remained in the natural colour of the local landscape, initially maintained a representational connection with their surroundings, but eventually moved towards abstraction. G. Ogen then began focusing on free-standing sculptures in the form of abstract structures made of bundles of soft material.
This turn to abstraction reflects the influence of the American Abstract Expressionist ceramics’ movement, which emerged in the 1950s. It was during a trip to the United States in 1968 that G. Ogen met the vanguard of this movement, Peter Voulkos (1924-2002), and the works of John Mason (1927-2019) and Stephen De Staebler (1933-2011). Freeing clay from its traditional and technical limitations, her sculptures merge the gestural spontaneity of Abstract Expressionism with the Zen embrace of imperfection that characterises Japanese pottery tradition.
G. Ogen visited Japan in the mid-1970s, but even before encountering these ideologies, she incorporated their essence in her pieces, letting the material express itself without aggressive intervention or attempts to conceal the marks of the creation process, allowing a dialogue between the material and the artist. The use of concrete poured into humid sand moulds in her later works permitted G. Ogen to further enhance the impression of looseness and of “strength through softness”.
Small or monumental, relief or free-standing, made of soil, clay or concrete, marked by local or foreign influences, G. Ogen’s art has been, since its inception, in a constant shifting state. Nonetheless, it has never lost touch with its local environment, whether through its subject or colourfulness, and remains a paradigm of locally rooted Israeli abstract ceramic sculpture.
Alongside her artistic career, Ogen trained a new generation of Israeli ceramic artists, as she served as the Head of the Ceramics Department of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design between 1965 and 1980. G. Ogen has received widespread recognition over the years, including invitations from around the world to show her work, for example to take part in the Israeli pavilion in Canada for the1967 World’s Fair and to participate in an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in 1972.
A notice produced as part of the TEAM international academic network: Teaching, E-learning, Agency and Mentoring© Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions
Gedula Ogen, Potters and Audience, 1965, limescale, 300 x 800 cm, The Ceramic Pavilion, Haaretz Museum, Tel-Aviv © Gedula Ogen
Gedula Ogen, The Gathering of Israel (detail), 1963, relief, ceramic, Hebrew University, Givat Ram, Jerusalem © Gedula Ogen
Gedula Ogen, Yellow Growing, 1987, concrete, sand, casting, 40 x 40 x 40 cm, collection of the artist, The Israel Museum Jerusalem © Gedula Ogen