Asher Bilu

Divine Interventions

For the senior Melbourne artist Asher Bilu, art is a sacred
portal between the material and spiritual planes.

By Ashley Crawford

Although he’s kept a low public profile in recent years, Asher Bilu, at the age of 80, is as active as
he has always been.

Bilu may be a passionate man, but he is not given to flights of fancy. Yet, while he has no inclination towards the dogmas of a structured religion, there is a strange sense of the sacrosanct that one senses when visiting his studio. It’s a distinct feeling that one may have entered a place of worship.

It is partly melancholic and partly uplifting. It is like a chapel where one goes to contemplate both the end and the beginning, the alpha and the omega, birth, death and rebirth. On the walls hang dark, almost stygian canvases, suggestive of charcoal from fires long extinguished, into which arcane cosmological messages have been carved. But before the supplicant can absorb their import it is the central iconographic object that inevitably draws the eye; dominating a black plinth, strangely beautiful, but slightly alien, lie a series of outgrowths, silvery-grey and delicate.

This work, like much of Bilu’s oeuvre, encapsulates life and death in complex, multilayered ways. Delightfully titled resurrection, it reminds us of both the threat the natural world faces and its remarkable resilience.

The sheer elegance of this construction is typical of Bilu’s work – a dazzling balancing act of object placement that is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also tells a series of narratives about our world and beyond. Whether he likes it or not, this atheist is a mystic or a seer, not in the 1960s guru-hippie sense, but in a way in which his use of shape, colour and. Subscribe to read this article in full

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