Talpiot, Jerusalem. The manufacturers and factories district. Here, on top of a building full of craft shops, Dan Groover – the Israeli Andy Warhol – has installed his headquarters, the Art’Drenaline Factory. From the moment we walk in, the smell of spray cans, turpentine and other legal substances announce the color. We enter the artistic experiences lab, between Street Art, Pop Art and Judaic Art.
Sarah SaHaD: An artist’s den is always a magical secret for the uninitiated. Thank you for having us here.
Dan Groover: It is always a pleasure to welcome; by sharing, an artist is able to face his public, to get to know him, and this is what makes us rich. Giving out is what makes our art alive.
Sarah SaHad: When we arrived here we were immediately impressed by your work table, overrun with spray cans and covered in colors. For the readers who are not yet familiar with your work, can you tell us who you are, Dan Groover?
Dan Groover: As a young man I was already involved in the Hip-Hop community, I participated in Break Dance battles in Paris, on the Place du Trocadero and in clubs. These were the 80’s, the intense years of the movement. One night, I was fourteen, I made a wall with a friend and created my first Graffiti. When tasting the Street Art, the adrenaline goes up and immediately we feel the need to start again. After the Parisian subways I met the wild walls of Guadeloupe. Hi-Hop had not yet entered there, and I had only one idea in mind, pretend being an explorer and cover all the walls of the island with my paintings; up until the longest one ever created in Street Art, the 600 m wall of the Baie-Mahault stadium, and I nailed it! After several Caribbean years, the painting, exhibitions, the islands became too small to express and advance my creation. I needed more content, to go beyond my own limitations; through my art I rediscovered my Jewish identity. I decided to make aliyah independent of the Jewish Agency and once here I looked around with my artist eye and realized I had touched something bigger and new. Oddly, it was in yeshivot and the study of three thousand year old texts that I grasped the true dimension of being Jewish and of Israel. After seven years of study I couldn’t paint in the same way anymore, but my form of expression was still painting. I couldn’t paint rabbis in the classical sense, but to “spray” the hidden meaning of the Hebrew letter, that is something I can do. Modernizing classic Jewish art images through contemporary techniques, thus making them accessible to a new language and a new generation is like a challenge and memory work at the same time.
Sarah SaHaD: You speak about “the duty to remember”; as a matter of fact, there is a lot of Israeli history in your works …
Dan Groover: I was born in Israel and I lived here until the age of five. The childhood stories that I heard from my father were stories of the kibbutz, the life in Israel, the Six Day War, the Independence, recapture of Jerusalem. These are first memories of my father, but in the same time it is about telling the story from History. Too often we forget that the return to Israel is part of something that started long ago, long before the creation of the state in 1948, and much bigger than Zionism. And that was what Pascal Elbe had notably questioned the Canadian journalists or the Arte film crew for 24H Jerusalem during his interview on Israel.
Sarah SaHaD: Dan Groover’s art is an entire program! What are you working on now?
Dan Groover: I will present my new artworks collection during an artistic night event, “Turn Art On”, on Thursday, January 28th, 2016, from 7 P.M. Emmanuel Turk, the founder of Icube, invited me to expose at the new building project Hanamal street, 12, Jaffa-Tel Aviv. You’ll discover my universe through Graffiti, Calligraphy, Light Painting and Photography; and you’ll have more surprises with video projections and musical ambiance.
I am fortunate to do what I do best and what I like, I am always on the lookout for new techniques, I like to meet new creative challenges: painting with light, or in reverse on Plexiglas, imagine laser cut objects, etc. The content remains the most important, and this is expressed, for example, with the Jacob’s Ladder Project, carried out together with Sarah SaHaD. Three years ago Sarah put together the Art’Drenaline Company and together we organize art projects, on which is built an interaction between artist, public and the art, decoration, design, fashion professionals. The Jacob’s Ladder Project is one of these projects, where we fused Words and Images, between Sarah’s poetry and some of my works – such as an image of Broadway, a photo I took during one of my trips to New York, and in the middle of the street, a piano keyboard that goes up to heaven; some will see here a Pop Art creation, others, perhaps, the ladder from Jacob’s dream. The words will then come to support the meaning, the understanding of the image through poems, let’s say “inspired.” We must express and live our story, and the Street Art and Pop Art seem to me good means of expression, because they are simply those that are used today.
Leaving Dan Groover’s studio is like leaving with a big breath of oxygen and a desire to see the world from another angle, by first starting a trip to discover oneself and his story … in Israel.
To see more & buy online: Dan Groover
Dan Groover’s Next Exhibition:
“Turn Art On”, Artistic Night Event
January 28th at 7pm
Hanamal, 12 Jaffa-Tel Aviv