Pillar of Time, 2019, Yonatan Ullman - Eretz Israel Museum

Pillar of Time, 2019, Yonatan Ullman

Photo: Hadar Saifan


Plaster, Formica laminate; mold casting


Yonatan Ullman, b. 1982


“This series of plaster reliefs presents the ‘life cycle’ of a Corinthian column, one of the three main orders (styles) of ancient Greek and Roman architecture, in four stages: The column is “imprisoned within the block”; one half of the column is “imprisoned within the block” while the other half has been “extricated from the block”; like the birth of Venus, the column is “extricated from the block” and is seen in all its glory; all that remains of the glorious column is a stump.”

In order to create this work, I developed a unique technique that involves casting layers of plaster into thin molds placed on Formica surfaces. The result is a work that ‘hovers’ in the undefined space between two and three dimensions, between an unrealized proposal for a sculpture and the vague memory of a sculpture that once was yet no longer is. The materiality also creates an elusive visual effect – the white Formica has a greenish tint, while the white plaster appears to have a pinkish one.

This work presents a sequence of four scenes that can be viewed as a story unfolding in space and concerned with its own process of creation – a self-reflexive metaphor of the creative process from a perspective that views all temporal possibilities as occurring simultaneously. The stage of the idea’s germination is a womb-like process of incubation, which is presented as the ‘negative’ of the finished column; the prolonged execution process is represented as a birth, or a transition from ‘negative’ to ‘positive’; the moment in which the work presents itself in full is represented as a glorious Corinthian column. What follows is the recognition (which is usually avoided) that the end of every creation is death – a stage represented by the felled column.

“My grandmother, Lisa Ullman, spent over a decade – from age 77 to age 87 – retranslating Josephus Flavius’ ‘The Jewish War’ from Greek into Hebrew. When asked in an interview how she achieved this, she answered simply: “One page at a time.’”


On display at the Rothschild Gallery, Tel Aviv Biennale of Crafts & Design, MUZA – Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv.