Artist, innovator, poet and musician, Nissan Engel was born in Israel, in Haifa, in 1931. Engel studied at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem. After having lived for several years in New York, he moved to Paris, France in the mid 1950s. There he painted while attending several academies which allowed his art to assert itself (drawing and designing costumes for the theatre). Later he was awarded a certificate in theatre design from the Centre Dramatique de l’Est in Strasbourg, and began exhibiting his work. His first real success was an exhibition at the Galerie Weil, in 1960. Five years later, he decided to move to the United States, and in particular New York. His work from this period has a strong graphical element and is characterised by his individual use of colour. The subjects of these first works were landscapes, still lifes and horses, often depicted during races and in circus scenes. The painters who influenced his work at this time were not only Klee, Marini, Kandinsky and other European expressionists; during his American period he was also influenced by the expressionists of the New York school that he kept company with initially, striking up friendships as time went by. The theme of music was to dominate his art; his art is personal and it is difficult to classify it as belonging to any specific movement. Nissan Engel is without a doubt more recognised in these works created using mixed techniques. As a painter, draughtsman and printer, he would produce many collages. Nissan Engel’s ultimate aim is to attain balance and harmony. His style, both lyrical and mystical, is the expression of an extraordinary eye for colours and perfect technical skill.
The pictorial space is here the location of action, of dialogue, of contradictions and of internal connections between the subjects.
The elements that make up the composition, in perpetual movement, are twisted from their customary value, gaining evocative visual power.
“I find Nissan Engel’s paintings really striking, because without going against everything that makes painting a sensual art, they primarily reflect a kind of mental tactic, where the image has a value, its own structure and in addition, a rigour, a rigour that is almost moral.
Through the tactic of language, and in the language, Nissan Engel succeeds in creating an image within the image; Engel is by nature highly graphical, with the intelligence of a tactician when it comes to the language of images.
He gives us a double image, beyond the image, to see and to dream.”