[ Galerie Engel ]


Richard Bilan


Oil on materials

Born in Poland in 1946. Art studies in Jerusalem and Paris.
Graduated from the Academy of Art and Design "Betzalel" in Jerusalem and from the national superior School of Decorative Arts in Paris (Majored in visual communication and graphic arts).
Received the "Sharet Foundation Scholarship (1973) and the French Government Scholarship for artistic creation (1974-1976).
Collaborated on the creation of industrial models for the glass industry (1975).
Creation of animated commercials (1975).
Typographic development and illustration of art books (Les Impenitents).
His work of art can be found in several private and national collections (National Library of Paris, The Tours Museum, Art Museum of Israel, Jerusalem).
At present involved in the search for new patterns of ceatin in the field of computerized infography.

Oil on materials


Tali Tamir - Critic and contemporary art curator, Israel

Richard Bilan paints and tells a story at the same time. His biography,
published last year in Poland (it is written in polish, his mother tongue),
sheds light on the conography he developed during the three decades of his
work as an artist in the plastic arts. His is a world of human characters and
types, mostly marginal characters, depicted with poetic sensitivity, and
creating a rich web of short scenes and fragmented imagery, with no clear
narrative discourse. It is a world of reminiscences of days begone, in
Poland, reminding specific characters : father, mother, characters of the close
vicinity, depicted with a virtuoso perception of their universally human
features, through their gestures, facial expressions, even grimaces; one may
even say: through word and sound. It is the encounter of child s world, gone
and never to return, with all the nuances of French grace and elegance.
Richard Bilan was born in 1946, to assimilated Jewish parents who had
survived the Holocaust. He came to Israel in 1969 and graduated from the
Graphic Arts Department of the Bezalel Academy of Arts, in Jerusalem. As
an outstanding students, he won a grant which enabled him to travel to
Paris, where he now lives and works. All those peregrinations have
contributed to his personal style where contradicting influences meet: on
the one hand, an East European tradition of popular narrative and graphic
art; on the other, the interinalization of the rich French tradition of painting,
which emphazises aesthetic and pictorial values based on colour spots,
brush strokes and superposition of layers of colour, while paying very close
attention to the chromatic and textual fabric.
The tension thus generated between the narrative, which tends towards the
expression of human activity together with individual feelings, and the
tendency of abstract painting toward universal generalisation as well as
optimal equilibrium of the composition, endows Bilan's paintings with a
kind of unrest which bursts through the chromatic harmony and surface
textual fabric. There is also more then a touch of humour and irony,
breaking thus the "sacrality" of the pictorial frame, establishing instead, and
against the inner energy of the picture, a somewhat grotesque character with
caricatural features, albeit personal.
Richard Bilan began his career as a painter through the graphic dimension of
drawing; first as an engraver - on wood and copper. These two techniques,
which by nature are close to the world of books and storytelling, enabled
him to develop a personal and, indeed, magic iconography with winged
angels as well as wetched drunkards. The storytelling dimension of Bilan's
work glides thus, more and more, towards a world of imagination and
legend : palaces, circuses and various types of clowns suddenly spring up
among his characters.
His pencil sketches and colourful aquarels based on them, created a flow of
theatrical scenes, harlequinesque situations and erotic characters who are
depicted with a spontaneous and liberated stroke. The colourful aquarel,
translucid, Iyric, magic, preserves the more childish and warm features of
Bilan's works; whereas his oil paintings, which developed later on,
integrate quite naturally the classic formula of western traditions of
The same principles lie at the basis of Bilan's sculpture of metal scrap
creating an indissoluble conjunction of the abstract and the narrative, the
specific and the general; on the one hand, the serious, ponderous tradition
of figurative sculpture; on the other, irony and humor expressing
themselves through the choice of the materials integrated into the physical
composition of the characters. Both the metal scrap scultures and those of
white linen soaked in plaster exploit the expressive power of their material,
underlining the anticlassical features of the chracters : battered household
utensils, teaspoons, pots and pans, old keys, broken cogwheels or torn
fabrics soaked in white plaster, all build a frame of everyday homelife
devoid of any sublime pathos. Those sculptures show always only one
chracter, shaped with astonishing skill and retaining thus all its humanity.
Recently, Bilan has engaged in new technique entwining sketch and
sculpture by the means of relief paintings with characters made of various
fabrics (especially all kinds of jeans fabrics) and emerging out of rich
colour-and-sketch background.
The various attempts to find a thorough and unequivocal definition of the
notion of "Jewish art", were never very successful. They concentrated
around two opposite elements which critics and scholars considered as part
of the Jewish weltanschaung: firstly, the human element, with its
compelling respect for the sacred value of human life of all men, be they
the most wretched and destitute; secondly and contrarily, the abstract
element of denial of any physical representation, especially that of the
image of man.
One may find such an expression of the human element in the works of
Haim Soutine, the French Jewish painter. There, the human image is
extended a position of central importance; not, of course, as the
Renaissance humanistic entity endowed with rational and aesthetic
perfection; but instead, as an imperfect and faulty character, able however
to preserve its human dignity in spite of its defects, through the central
positioning within the pictorial frame. As for the abstract element, it can be
found in monumental work of Mark Ruthko, the American painter and, in a
even more dialectic way, in the contemporary works of the Israeli painter,
Moshe Kupferman.
Richard Bilan's paintings and sculptures carry a moral commitment towards
the marginal human character, deprived of its perfection and lacking any
kind of pathos; yet still preserving its human and empathic qualities. The
warmth on his drawing, his extreme sensitivity to colourfulness, the
sensuality of his stroke of paint, his vituosic elaboration of the human body
by use of old household utensils, all bear testimony of Bilan's works as
retaining a humanistic vision which nourishes an artistic achievement of
quality and human warmth.

Tali Tamir



Personal exhibitions

1975 - Paris, F.I.A.C
1976 - Jerusalem, Shatz Gallery
Paris, Haut-Pavé Gallery
1977 - Paris, Nicaise Library
Tel-Aviv, Shamir Gallery
1978 - Paris, National Foundation for the Graphic and Plastic Arts
1979 - Paris, Aranella Gallery
1980 - Paris, Cour d'Ingres Gallery
1981 - Jerusalem, Gordon Gallery
1982 - Strasbourg, Aktuaryus Gallery
Lausanne, Cimaise Gallery
1990 - Lodz (Poland), Gallery 86
1991 - Paris, Usine desaffectee
1992 - Jerusalem, Artists's House
1993 - Paris, Engel Galleries
1994 - Tel-Aviv, Engel Galleries
1995 - Paris, "MAG" Gallery
- Paris, "MEDIART" Gallery
1996 - New-York, "ADINE" fine art Gallery

Group exhibitions

1975 - Paris, F.I.A.C
1976 - Orly, "Art Gallery" (1st prize in the engraving category)
Paris, Haut-Pavé Gallery (commendation)
1977 - Aranella Gallery
Paris, De la Tanière Gallery
1978 - Cherbourg, Hotel de Ville (City Hall)
Paris, Nesle Gallery
Paris, International City of Arts
1980 - Paris, Hotel de la Monnaie
Paris, Modern Art Museum
Paris, La Trait-International City of Arts
1981 - Taipei (Taiwan), Taipei Art Guild
France, Poland, Israel, The French Association for artistic Action at the
Ministry of foreign affairs
1982 - Paris-Le Castellet, Le Trait-International City of Arts-Contemporary
1984 - Paris, ACRUS
1987 - Gravelines, Arsenal Museum
Marseille, Franco-Chinese Contemporary wood engraving exhibition
1988 - Elancourt, Today's Xylography-International exhibition (1st Prize in the wood
engraving category)
Hang-Cou, ENSAD engravings
Beaux-Arts Academy of Cheylang
Paris, SAGIA FIAC edition Grand Palais
1989 - Paris, SAGA 89 Grand Palais
Schwetsligen, Xylon Museum
Lodz (Poland), Maleforny Gradiki BWA
1990 - Paris, SAGA 90 FIAC Grand Palais
Paris, Jean Attali
Paris, Black white wood engraving edition for the "arts print lover"
1991 - Paris, SAGA 91with the "arts print lover" at the Grand Palais
Lodz (Poland), Ist prize in the small graphic format category
1992 - Chateau de Bourdeilles, 20 contemporary engravings around Rembrandt
1996 - Denver, U.S.A., "The Jewish Nexus", The Meizel Museum


1976 - Orly, Art gallery first prize for etchings.
1976 - Paris, Gallery "Du haut-pavé" honour prize.
1988 - Elancourt, International exhabition-first prize for wood engravings.

1991 - Lodge (Poland), First prize for small graphics formats.


[ Galerie Engel ]