My first real encounter with Fernando Pessoa was early in 2004 when I read
his work, "The Book of Disquiet".
This was the period when my
exhibition "Conversations with Kafka" was being shown in the Czech
Republic - an exhibition which had occupied me both mentally and physically
since the year 2001 (when it was first exhibited in Israel), and was to
occupy me for a further two years while it was shown in different cities
both in the Czech Republic and in Poland (Conversations with Kafka)
During this period I came across
the Hebrew translation of "The Book of Disquiet" by Fernando Pessoa, and
probably what triggered my immediate interest in this book was the
similarity - about which I had no doubt - between the world of this text and
the world as presented in the texts of Franz Kafka.
Later on, after reading the poems
in Pessoa's book "From the Highest Window", I started working on the
series which I called "Homage to Fernando Pessoa". The exhibition was
shown from mid-November 2008 for two and a half months at the Belgium House
at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the opening ceremony was in the
framework of the conference dedicated to Pessoa, 'The Pessoa Paradigm and
the Phenomenon of Heteronomy: A Comparative Approach' (Fernando
Pessoa - Exhibition Conference).
The common factor between the two
series, "Homage to Fernando Pessoa" and "Conversations with
Kafka", lies in the fact that neither was created in any way with the
intention of illustrating the writings of these authors. At the most, the
intention was to express the essence of each. This is the only aspect they
have in common In all other ways the series are totally different from each
other, firstly technically: the works on Kafka are prints and those on
Pessoa are oil paintings and include mixed techniques.
Furthermore: I assume that also
from the thematic aspect there are clear differences between the two series,
and as I do not usually analyze my works, also not in retrospect, I will
only add the following: the series "Conversations with Kafka" is apparently
far more integrated than that of "Homage to Fernando Pessoa", an integration
achieved partly by the use of a repetitive motive which appears in each of
the works in the series, while there is no such repeated motive in the
series on Pessoa, a fact which perhaps expresses the aspect of the
heteronymous nature of Pessoa and which made his works much less harmonized
in comparison with the significant unity of the works of Kafka. And of
course in retrospect, and without my having been aware of this from the
beginning, it is possible that the names of the series also in some way
express the difference between them...
In connection with the two authors
in question, I should add a further factor which led me to create the two
series: in addition to the not insignificant features they have in common,
and not only in the field of their creativity but also in the course of
their lives, in their interpersonal relations and even in the fate of
their works from all aspects, there are also significant differences
between them in all of these facets, but this is not the place for a
superficial discussion of this topic. On the other hand, in my opinion there
is a real need for an extensive and serious study of this topic.
In this connection: Prof.
Shimon Sandbank, in his excellent book "The Way of Wavering" (1974, in
Hebrew), discusses "forms of uncertainty in Kafka's work", a topic which I
find absolutely relevant to Pessoa's work as well.
On the other hand: In his
Postscript to the book Sandbank says: "Kafka's lack of certainty implies a
lack of despair as well [...]. In spite of his accepted image, he is not the
poet of despair [...]. His destruction of the world is what he calls a
constructive destruction" – and I am not sure that these words of Shimon
Sandbank are perfectly applicable to the work of Fernando Pessoa.
I will conclude with what could
maybe be a relevant Fernando Pessoa's saying:
A rainy day is as
beautiful as a sunny day.
Both exist: each one just
exactly what it is.