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Leonard Ursachi: Bunkers – Drawings and Sculpture

The Hebrew Home at Riverdale, Gilbert Pavilion Gallery
5901 Palisade Ave, Riverdale, 718-581-1596
October 11, 2011 - January 1, 2012
Reception: Tuesday, October 11, 6:30 - 8 PM
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This exhibition features drawings, small-scale sculpture and one large outdoor piece, Hiding Place (2007), that are part of Leonard Ursachi’s Bunkers series that addresses the complex relationship between identity, displacement and ideas of home.

Inspired by bunkers that mark the landscape of his native Romania, Ursachi – who now lives and works in Brooklyn – began using the form in 1998 to explore the contradictory feelings of fear and refuge that they suggest. Many bunkers, relics from wars, lie abandoned throughout Europe, nestled into hillsides or built along the coasts. Having lost their purpose in peacetime, bunkers become hollow, capable of suggesting a multitude of meanings – historical, psychological and social.

The drawings in the exhibition are conceptual renderings of different projects in the Bunkers series. Hiding Place, now part of the Hebrew Home’s permanent collection, was created in 2007 as a public art project for Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. The site-specific outdoor sculptures have been installed in diverse locations, including beside a 15th-century stone fortress in Romania’s Carpathian Mountains. Also included in the exhibition are small maquettes (scale-models) of the sculptures.

Ursachi writes: “I grew up in a dictatorship, from which I defected. In my art, I often use architectural references as metaphors for systems that enclose and exclude, protect and reject. Every border has its bunkers – physical or psychological – reminding us of where we belong.”

Ursachi was born in Vaslui, Romania, and lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. He studied art history and archeology at the Sorbonne in Paris before emigrating to the United States. His work has been shown at such venues as the National Museum of Contemporary Art (MNAC) (Bucharest, Romania), Piatra Neamt Museum (Tirgu Neamt, Romania), and the Bronx River Art Center, and in numerous public locations including Duarte Square in downtown Manhattan and Red Hook Pier, Prospect Park, and Fulton Ferry State Park, all in Brooklyn.

As a member of the American Association of Museums, The Hebrew Home at Riverdale is committed to publicly exhibiting its art collection throughout its 19-acre campus, including the Derfner Judaica Museum and a sculpture garden overlooking the Hudson River and Palisades. The Derfner Judaica Museum + The Art Collection provide educational and cultural programming for residents of the Hebrew Home, their families and the general public from throughout New York City, its surrounding suburbs and visitors from elsewhere. The Home is a nonprofit, non-sectarian geriatric center serving more than 3,000 elderly persons through its resources and community service programs. The Art Collection, Gilbert Pavilion Gallery and grounds are open daily, 10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. The Derfner Judaica Museum is open, Sunday – Thursday, 10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Please call (718) 581-1596 for holiday hours.
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