Joshua Griffit is a contemporary artist based in Israel.
In Quest of the Lost Magic
‘This is the source of the ambivalence here, which both critics described so well. On the one hand — the nostalgia. On the other — the irony and the mockery, also self-directed, which exposes this nostalgia and its objects to a world of "false, dead images, advertisement images, where behind the mask of glamorous illusion the internal decay is manifest."
There is also a third possibility, however. One can both experience and live with the ambiguity that underlies this art. Because in Griffit's world a harmony does exist. not only of the sentimental and the naive in Schiller's sense, nor only of the illusion and the flight from illusion, but also of the beauty and the Kitsch. the randomness and the perfectionistic and controlled artifact produced by the air-brush in the style of the eighties.
Are we then mistaken when we recognize here traces of a native-Israeli experience, which is authentic in all its awareness of its inauthenticity, pathetic in all its mockery; which reaches out to what will always remain unattainable except as a dream, as a legend, as a quotation from another time, another place, another source?’
Nathan Zach 1992
Joshua Griffit: Behind All This, No Great Happiness Hides
Griffit’s painting, in its essence, is also a constant remark on “stylization”, while making use of it and while presenting it as the “surface”. By the way, this is also the same “stylization” which is absent from Israeli life, or at least was absent until a decade and a half ago. It was absent also because there was no room for it in this Israeli life, since the early ‘50s, until a decade and a half ago. I.e., Griffit's painting, Which also deals with “stylization”, attests to the prolonged local lack of it, And slightly ridicules its “wild” emergence here in the past decade and a half. What is not “stylized” today? You suddenly can’t find even a spoon that isn’t “designed”.
And in what does Griffit's trivial differ from those of the Englishmen (Caulfield, Blake), or that of the American Joseph Cornell, or from Sigmar Polke’s Lovers? Griffit's trivial was conceived and painted in Israel. I.e.,? In a place, in a culture, in a Gestalt, all of which reject the trivial. Reject it completely. Sigmar Polke’s Lovers, consciously ornamented and kitschy in its qualities, would have been almost impossible to paint in Israel. Imagine Zaritsky painting “kitsch” in order to make a remark about it. Imagine Danziger doing it. But Joshua Griffit has been working in this domain for years, in this domain of materials and imagery, and has been punished for it by a prolonged ostracism from the center of museum and critical attention. Danziger and Shemi submitted tens of proposals for more monuments as a kind of “Conquest of the Wilderness” – and you, Griffit, offer us the magic of the trivial, the examination of the surface, your journey of objects?!
From all this it is evident that Joshua Griffit very rarely “salutes” Israeli art. He does not “salute” Zaritsky, Stematsky, Danziger, Shemi, Rubin or Gutman, the history of local nostalgia, or local “design”. An outsider boy looking outside. This very non-saluting to the local forms and the local canons and the abovenamed personages is Joshua Griffit's longstanding and reasoned position towards the culture and the art of this Israeli place, towards the hierarchical ranking that has become established here, towards the painterly essence that has taken shape here and become dominant here. Griffit does not respond to Zaritsky, for Griffit has non-Zaritskyan sources of inspiration. And, as already stated (and it’s right to repeat and stress this), Joshua Griffit is thus quite lonely in the Israeli art community. He has no local predecessor. He has no local painterly inspiration. And he has no partners here. An Israeli without fellows. Not Tzuba (Zaritsky/Abramson), not The Binding of Isaac (Bezem/Kadishman), not coded ideology (Cohen Gan/Zvi Goldstein), not political (Ruth Schloss/David Reeb), not involved (Avraham Ofek/Jan Rauchwerger). What does he have? Himself.
By the way, in recent years, here and there, you see in Griffit's painting a kind of (expressive or lyrical) abstract “swish”. What is this? It is not the beginnings of a migration from the precise to the abstract. It is a “souvenir” which Griffit has borrowed in order to implant it in his painting, to amuse himself. The abstract itself, after its peak, has, in certain senses, been stored in the drawer of trivia, and Griffit, as we’ve said, is fascinated with trivia.
Adam Baruch, 1999