Ze’ev Willy Neumann likes illusion.
The artist is participating in Sculpture Expo 13, an outdoor exhibit across Red Hook, and his piece, called “Jacob’s Ladder,” is part of a series titled “In Suspense.”
The idea, Neumann said, is to “suspend the work, so that you almost have the illusion that the piece is floating in air.” Neumann has used different shapes in the past and chose a cubical shape for this piece. “I have a plan to do it in a very, very long version of 50-100 feet and hang it from a tall building or something,” he said. Other shapes used in the series include pyramid and hexagon.
“Jacob’s Ladder” is made of 15 wooden square frames painted red and strung together at the corners vertically. It is hung from a tree in front of Red Hook Emporium and anchored at the base to the ground by wire.
“Cubes and squares are a sort of obsession of mine. It’s a wonderful illusion that you can make with that shape, even though we are so familiar with it and it’s in your face all day,” Neumann told The Observer. He added that his goal is to “find a way to play with a familiar shape and show it in a way that the viewer is not used to or at least to make you say, ‘aha!'”
“Jacob’s Ladder” was created from painted wood and string, but Neumann said the materials are secondary. “What is important is the illusion I create,” he said. “Of course, if the material can be sustained and kept outdoors, that would be nice, but I’m more interested in entertaining the viewer.”
Neumann encourages viewers to walk around “Jacob’s Ladder” to appreciate how the piece moves. “It’s not a solid piece of sculpture, it has a certain transparency to it, and that [transparency] plays a part in the idea I’m trying to convey,” he said.
Neumann, who was born in Belgium and moved with his parents to Israel in 1948, spent much of his career working in art studios and building film sets in New York City after he moved there in 1974. He currently lives and works in Saugerties, where he owns Double Take Gallery and Studio.
Sculpture Expo 13 will run until Nov. 20. It is a seven-sculpture exhibition organized by Red Hook Community Arts Network (RHCAN). Originally eight sculptures were planned, but one was cancelled. All seven can now be viewed in various locations around the Village of Red Hook. The Observer is profiling a new artist in the exhibit each issue.