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Israeli book artist creates wonders

For Israeli artist Ido Agassi, creating works of art using materials generally used for books is a journey.

Agassi is in town showcasing his book art as part of a special exhibition marking the millennial anniversary of the Tripitaka Koreana.

Until Nov. 6, Haeinsa Temple in Hapcheon County, South Gyeongsang Province, is holding a myriad of exhibitions and programs to raise awareness of the meaning and value of the ancient woodcrafts, sustaining the thousand-year-old wisdom of the Tripitaka in today’s world.

Agassi is representing Israel in the international exhibition that has invited 60 artists from 60 countries to display how books have evolved into an art form.

Artists have been active in printing and book production for centuries, but the artist’s book is primarily a late 20th century form.
Book artist Ido Agassi shows off the David and Goliath book exihibited at Haeinsa Temple for the 1,000th anniversary of the Tripitaka Koreana. (Yoav Cerralbo/The Korea Herald)
Book artist Ido Agassi shows off the David and Goliath book exihibited at Haeinsa Temple for the 1,000th anniversary of the Tripitaka Koreana. (Yoav Cerralbo/The Korea Herald)

“One of the books I am displaying is the David and Goliath book,” he told The Korea Herald.

“One side is written in Hebrew, the other side in Korean, with gold lettering of the Old Testament verse Samuel 17:49.”

In the verse, David puts his hand in his bag and takes out a stone and knocks out the Philistine giant.

Once the book is opened, the viewer discovers a sling with a stone Agassi picked up the Elah Valley where the battle is said to have taken place.

“The book itself is hidden in the side, and it says how many copies where produced, the verse itself and where the stone is from. It’s an edition of 30 copies,” Agassi said.

“I’m preserving the old fashioned printing process but using these methods to do new innovative work,” he added, the only one to do so in Israel.

The other book Agassi is exhibiting is titled “Clear Your Mind Hera” (enlightenment in Hebrew).

Agassi explained that the art behind this work is a field of words, texts and noises.

The book is made in the shape of a lotus flower. When it is spun around, the top part of the art piece opens up like a flower unveiling “cleanliness, quiet and enlightenment.”

“This lotus flower (art) is pieces of thoughts in my head,” he said. “There are 1,000 pieces of thoughts in the work of art, in honor of the Tripitaka Koreana.”

With more than 52 million Chinese characters, Tripitaka Koreana is the oldest and most comprehensive Buddhist canon existing in the world today. The entire depository for Tripitaka Koreana in Haeinsa was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.

By Yoav Cerralbo (yoav@heraldcorp.com)
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