RUTH DAGAN, Oil on Canvas, 200 x 122 cm, 2020
RUTH DAGAN, ISRAEL
was born in Jerusalem in 1958 to the artists Hannah and Abraham Yakin. She received a B.A. in textile design from the Rietveld Academy of Art in Amsterdam and has lived in the Netherlands ever since. Originally, her main professional interest after graduation was putting on muppet shows for children. However, after a transformative journey, she took up painting.
During her career Dagan has written and illustrated five books, and has exhibited in the Netherlands and the United States. In recent years Dagan’s work has expressed concern for the world, specifically the hope that humanity will see the world as one, reduce overconsumption, and work to protect living and vegetative nature for the benefit of all kinds of life on earth.
The written word often serves as the springboard for her work. Dagan interprets texts such as fairy tales and Bible stories, illustrating them in drawings, objects or photographs. In her visual work she also likes to reference famous artworks, creating a dialogue with them and connecting the past to the future.
Her current masterpiece is entitled “The last supper of the world” which calls to mind the work of Leonardo da Vinci as well as with the images of photographer Adi Ness. The painting depicts people sitting around a round table symbolising the world. The world map looks fluid, hinting at global warming and serving as a nod to the ecological crisis that is at least partly caused by human greed.
At the top of the painting are woodcuts, which spell out “redemption” in Hebrew sign language. The dove of peace flies in the opposite direction. The painting also has plenty of hands, symbolising that same human greed.
The figures are dressed in clothes on which political maps are painted, whereas the tablecloth sports a geographical map. The message is clear: for global problems to improve, humanity needs to see the world as one. In addition, natural disasters and viruses - such as the Coronavirus - pay no heed to the territories carefully delineated by man.
To create this painting, Dagan photographed her family in Jerusalem in January 2020. Only a few months later, her father passed away. Due to lockdowns in Israel and the Netherlands she could not travel to bid him a final farewell, and consequently the work also came to represent the "last supper" of her complete family.