Yael David-Cohen – Artist’s Statement

Early in my career, I produced paintings on canvas that tended towards abstraction with strong use of colour. I preferred to exhibit my work unframed, thus revealing the rawness of the unfinished edges. I began to experiment with larger scale pieces for which I used industrial textiles and rolls of wallpaper. The development in my use of materials led me to postgraduate studies in printmaking at St Martin’s School of Art in London.

Song of Lace
Song of Lace
There I experimented with a technique of film animation pioneered by Norman McLaren where inks and textures are applied directly to the surface of the film without using a camera. This led to a series of vibrant works full of bold shapes and movement. Although I no longer use animation there is still a strong feeling of movement in my work.

For over 20 years I have worked mainly with textiles since I feel this best suits my mode of expression. The use of textiles allows me to create a space whose dimensions I do not know when I start the work. I work without defined boundaries, cutting, tearing and sewing the textiles so that the size of the work is only determined on its completion. I work instinctively, responding to the textures and marks on the materials. I continue to display my works without frames, enabling them to appear without borders.

I use found textiles as the idea of recycling and reusing materials and giving them new leases of life is something I very much enjoy. I take great pleasure in hunting for different textiles which I then layer, mixing opaque and transparent to create depth and three dimensional effect. I work with a variety of mixed media, drawing on the textiles with pencils, pastels, oil sticks and acrylic. I often print directly onto the material too. This process allows me to ‘excavate’ the layers of colour and form that belong to the textiles. The repetitive act of sewing serves as a form of meditation in contrast to the more spontaneous free expression of painting.

My works tend towards abstraction but are influenced by natural processes including growth, flowering, withering and fading. I emphasize the contrasts between dark and light, flowing and stagnant, active and passive, transparent and opaque. Often the work is divided into a geometrical pattern and represents the process of change from one state to another.

I also continue to produce etchings and have worked on a number of artists’ books. My work in this medium is not illustration or visualization of a narrative but more an emotional response to the writing. My books include responses to Georges Perec’s novel ‘Les Choses’ as well as works based on the Biblical Books of Jonah, Ruth, Esther and Ecclesiastes.

Please see CV for a complete exhibition list.