Ruth Bloch was born in Israel in 1951 to artist parents. Her father was a musician, while her mother worked in ceramics, Ruth's family were members of a Kibbutz called Alonim, a place where childhood and early youth afforded her many opportunities to develop her artistic talents. Reaching adulthood, Ruth attended the Avny Art Institute in Tel Aviv, and took additional studies in psychology in the United States.
Currently Ruth Bloch lives and sculpts in Israel. Her work exhibits a great depth of feeling for the human figure, revealing the living unity of her masculine and feminine forces. Her works are exhibited all over the world.
RUTH BLOCH by Andrew McDonnell
Today art is often more about an aggressive attitude or posture than the experience of beauty, or like an elaborate-and academic-show-and-tell game. The artist "shows," but not before her critics or interpreters or exegetes "tell"-in bombastic allegation, thick with political, over-intellectual, and hyperbolic baggage. The work or its meaning, the artist's supposed philosophy or inescapable political and social views or origins, trap her or him, and the art, and then snare us, when we stoop to read the captions, or leaf through a program. Cant, or crippling irrelevant obscurity, intrudes before the viewer can experience what an artist feels, or might show us. Art becomes the servant ant of bad thought rather than good, the slave of slogan, and servile missile or fume, and pretentious futile speech making. The speech comes first, the art comes last.
With the art of Ruth Bloch-and with her own thought and work-that is not what art is about. Art is not a con game of fashionable political platitude, or textual criticism designed to beguile the academic and boggle the viewer. Nor is it to be engineered in terms of an obtuse theory, or cerebral molecular interpretation of the deconstructed conceit comprising a piece, or the atoms of its maker. Just as in physics we speak of a "causal decoupling" between one level of physical organization and another, Bloch's work is happily detached from the intellectual demonstration that has become the progressive arthritis of art, hobbling its practice, and its love.
Bloch's hands are free and flexible to make what she wants, and feels; and so, free of the need to define by negatives-as to what she is not, or does not want, or does not do--she is pleased enough to show and tell what it is she does, as a sculptor and as an artist, and creator. She is accordingly positive: not just affirmative, but emphatic and optimistic in her belief in nature and in life, and in the human kind and nature she freely styles in unaffected and untrammeled creation. Hers is a view to see, and to style, an uncomplicated good in form, preserved from the fury and commotion of posture, reserving in pose, and poise, humane motion: as that moves the human heart, which sees and feels to act, and commit the true and good. To paraphrase Donne, she labors where others in labor lie: laboring only upon matter, to bring forth the gleam of life and issue of love. While thee puzzled spirits who miss the point belabor the issues-or give the lie, when they address art without authentic caring, and so lie vexed in care. The cause Bloch has in an-a happy care, though never careless, or carefree-leaves her to better witness
The common catch-phrase "lyrical," when used in art writing, is mostly a mere empty emotive term, meaning "good" or "I like"-a point that might please positivist and Wiener Kreis-type logicians, if not the scribbler or auctioneer. In Bloch's sculpture, "lyrical" takes a more precise sense. Here, it connotes how in her work, a gesture or fugitive moment is caught, captured, once briefly elapsed. Her work does not intrude an epical, that is, rhetorical or narrative content; there is a spontaneous and uncompounded fluid motion, a continuum resident not simply in the concrete form of the artifact she settles into form, but the human state or emotion it registers and accosts. Argumentation, even development, is no more a part of her aesthetic or style than it is of her conversation-or of the still and short converse, or impact, that the lyric has with us. When we consult it, we find what Bloch intends to give us: a stroke of motion, present, not presented, in the swift consort of forms that reach or stream or bend or in some other sudden movement are in their native poignancy caught once glimpsed by us
This is an art of deep, immanent feeling, like a haiku of the body, and the form that beings of limb and soul speak free. But with Bloch, feeling is not sentimental. Her talk, like the thinking that girds her life and anti is more like the senryu than the haiku: more quizzical sharp, sturdy, never elegant or delicate. She wants an art that is not "nice" but good--qualified not only by strength, real artistic merit, or by the kind of spry cellulose toughness that maverick composer Charles Ives wanted when he "stretched his ears"-and good because distinguished by the good, the absolute-without that Hegelian capital A. She wants art to be good with the same good we find when we experience life: not just with a sense of joy and an openness to beauty, but with the moral integrity and the firm resolve to perpetuate nothing else but good in our lives, our feelings, our actions and our works, and the deeds like things we propagate and raise to life in the world of souls of fellow birth.
Bloch wants that strong reaction from the viewer: a visceral art, that shows what it tells, with forms that, as she puts it, "bounce into the intellect," like benign free radicals that evince the lithe links to light and life that make us more humane, and free in the manner of the matter she molds, or the dance she springs from stony life. With the material she works on to quick fruition she does not seek abrupt, sharp edges, or scans and fits of stutters and breaks in what she makes to be like the life she feels and sees. She wants-and finds-gentle lines, as a drawing in matter upon the bidden void, in rounded shapes that "never stop, never start." that ply an agile M'bius band in round life, made one dimension in her three, unbounded light and pleasant clarity. Just as she is not pedantic in her solutions or influences, and as she is unstudied and schooled in her reflections, so in making what she does, she eschews, or abhors, strident or tendentious symbolism, or virally complex codes of pompous meaning behind the imagery she builds. There is no parenthesis in Bloch's art in, or asterisk or footnote to stub the plastic contour of her thought. There is effusion and that in lyric kind, raised to sing the strain of life.
In that, Bloch has Seen, and known, enough to suit her. And she will dl you how she is indeed surfeited with the heritage of ag6ny, the pain, and erring pang of violence, that intrudes upon the memory and everyday life of her country: the background of flight from, and vigilance against, the genocidal violence of hate; the ceaseless sneaking plague of war; and the scale of strife, from partisan quarrel, to relentless suspicion and distrust, to riot and random grief, made the grievous worst when the spasm of human will, inflamed by spite to strike its blight to innocence.
Of such evidence, Bloch finds art quite innocent: not at all absolved, but rather, untouched, and to inhabit an unsullied state of grace, like our inmost hearts. She feels a rending sorrow to see the cureless bun done unto any of the inhabitants of her time, those her human fellows on the globe, divided from her but by habit or chance. She feels these, as all of us, united in all else, humanity especially, and people all, joined best when joined by common feeling. This feeling, pronounced in an, educes, and never imposes, such unity as the seamless spree she gives to those stretching shapes she lends the leaping into ]ife. She does not want the bitter hand of ferocious extremity to clutch in palsy at her work, or suffer its grime and rank dirt to stain the burnish, Instead, she believes that life and light, bright when far from that polluted grip, must recall people to their common humanity, and share of feeling; and that the free instinct upon and in the work of art, both for one who makes it and all free to see, liberates to human life, starting, as matter must, with mind made form, all joyous in its thought to jubilation, its breath beating in our clay.
Bloch and her work inhabit such a present, where humanity, not suffering in segregation by any artifice, whether of party, race, or creed, spiritual or secular, is united, as in Schiller's ode-and in both his original and his revised choice of phrase-by Freiheit and by Freude; by freedom for its joy, where else custom sternly separates, and obtrudes, like a cataract on what we feel, even as bad words for what we see. For all that she is not involved in any doctrinaire conflict, aesthetic or worse, about her life itself, Bloch is not unintellectual, or biased against the life of the mind-any more than life itself. Just as she shares a freewheeling, spontaneous, unneurotic attitude about and belief in life, so she has an active, and eager, curiosity about what the world has to offer-in science, or in culture, or in learning; or indeed1 in the manners and the morals one can see, explore and touch, when one goes out, about, and abroad, and inquisitively, and positively, investigates all the walks and ways of the world She likes to participate in what she sees, which is to learn: and to guide others to take part as well, which is, we know, to teach. So she likes the spontaneity of children, distinguishing it from the habit-and the inhibited striving after the correct-found often in adults; and when she is called upon to explain, or instruct, her advice, or preferment, is the same for others as for herself: to her first is free, to let go, not to mind protocols, or rules, and to let the form and its strict conduct emerge only later, when the guiding spirit of creating has gone free and unfettered before, in the manual emotion to comprehend the grasp on life we feel, and cope in feeling forth.
And such is the art she would have us see, when looking to her work, and indeed applying as students to it. We can be guided, to intuition or its understanding, if we see certain affinities in her work to other artists, so long as we do not overdo it, and harden these into stereotypes, pat schools, or a sort or phrenology of the heart, as bumpy and faulty as the kind once designed on the head, So with her flights and forms, the viewer can make out resemblances-as to the early Arp, or Matisse, as in the period of Le Luxe, the love of flow in drawing out gentle lines. One might add the related aesthetic of a later stage of Matisse, as in the Barnes mural; or still later Matisse, or, say, Chagall-like the L'art sacr? movement of the 1950s, famous for its simple nondenominational and international church art, and popular template of much later religious design, for its fixing generic types of feeling; and, it may be, an implied generality in human kind, for an attitude much like Bloch's own conviction, in reaching across the demarcations drawn by councils against our common blood and peace.
In sculpture specifically, Bloch's sweeps and seized embraces come like less abstract reprise of the likes of Brancusi, with humane sway and animation in concrete flight, as Shelley's skylark, with limb and gesture drawn out by the plumeless streak of meditation, arching and tensile for its cast: perhaps again Arp; or Henry Moore, if not so earthbound, but instead, protracted and elongated in the bend and pounce of unspent, unending suspense of line and mobile life. And- amid the textbook biomorphism or organicity-we would do well to recall one prime influence on this sculptor and this naturals the workshop of her own mother, complete with all the tools for fashioning inert matter into the full contour and fixing glimpse of life; from which, even as vases were made good vases, and all ware good ware, so form, swept in its humane function of gasping forth the fleeting institutes of good, follows, and represents the feeling human soul in the life of good we lead That personal news, and species of general good tidings, the comfort of what we can build upon in what we take from life, would suit Bloch more as a lesson to take than any rigid survey. And it might be perfect summary, if life or art is ever apt summed up by us. Such outgrowth of nature, and good life as taken, and once taken, lived, is the period, with emphasis, of Ruth Bloch's art, bound as one with her feeling. as her thought and life; drawn, as tooled, in grace in line, firmly leading the view, as the thought, to good and truth, and to life, as is the eminence of lyric motion, and the bounding limpid lissome step of art.