Hanoch Piven Artist Statement
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by Hanoch Piven
As I was drawing that great dictator, a box of matches appeared next to the illustration. This was the fall of 1990; Saddam and Iraq had just conquered Kuwait and the whole world was getting ready for the Gulf War. These matches not only looked perfect as a mustache, but also seemed a perfect metaphor for the imminent war/fire coming.
As a student at The School of Visual Arts in NYC, I immediately had the idea of using objects to describe people. After all, a caricature is a charged or loaded portrait. (to ‘caricare’ is to ‘load’ in Italian). The objects I used became the ‘charge.’
I was lucky to be in NYC at a time when there was a mini Golden Age of editorial illustration; magazines constantly looked for new ways of depicting faces. Thus my work was immediately accepted and commissioned by the likes of Newsweek, Time, Rolling Stone, and The New Yorker. In 1994 my illustration of Barbra Streisand was awarded a Gold Medal by the Society of Illustrators of New York. Hanoch Piven When I create a portrait with objects, I try to create a puzzle for the viewer. I include just the right amount of information for the viewer to recognize the subject. The colors and objects help the viewer arrive at the right place, but there are some objects which might be surprising, and that is my commentary about the depicted character. Ideally it’ll take some seconds of observation before the “Aha” moment occurs. These are the valuable seconds of interaction between the viewer’s brain and mine – I cherish these seconds.
As time went by, I discovered more applications beyond caricature, such as TV animation, children’s books and iPad Apps. I also realized how the collage language could be used to teach creativity and non-verbal communication.
After almost 25 years spent making collages, I can say that collage has taught me how to live my own life in a more flexible and less rigid way.
The exhibition Piven World was presented by the Cleveland Israel Arts Connection, a program of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland.
See photos from Hanoch Piven's exhibit at the Jewish Federation of Cleveland during the fall of 2013.