Soshana Afroyim loves travelling. Since I first met her in summer 1962 at the Musée d`Antibes where her work was being shown, she has travelled two or three times around the world, from the ashrams of India to the pyramids of Yucatan.
Thus, ranging in style from more or less abstract impressionism to tachistic calligraphy, Soshana´s paintings represent a diary of her travels showing, page by page, the impressions and visual experiences evoked on her journeys. They are observations and thoughts triggered of by the mood of the moment, sketches of situations, personalised expressions: an atlas of emotion and remembrances. Soshana could have continued in this manner – if suddenly in New York in 1968 – a mutation had not taken place...
The vision of the artist, yesterday still roaming the world, now focuses on structures forms which define their own halo of radiance. She rejects spontaneous schemes which are passive statements mirroring symbols of emotions. Her sensitivity becomes positive, she does not want to receive any more, but give, not sense or interpret, but assert herself.
Soshana´s designs now lose their spontaneity, their character of intimate expression. They become monumental, functional. Within a few months, the artist presents us with a series of interconnected ideas of spacial representations, ranging from luminous obelisks to a double-spiral toboggan tower.
The luminous plexiglass obelisks fit into the age of old tradition of "Markers", from celtic menhirs to Indian totems. One can no doubt find here more recent influences, as e.g. the towers of Mathias Goeritz, the Mexican poet and city planner, or memories of Gio Ponti's precious arrows of light. Soshana's obelisks are the beacons of our time: the point is to try to make man want to meet man, to plan for an encounter, to orient himself toward a common course. The form serves to capture the reality of human presence in the warmth of togetherness, the comfort of rediscovered direction: a human symbol coming from past ages to meet our time; an eternal symbol, contemporary to any era.
The monumental symbol may assume other, more complex dimensions like of that of an inverted "Z", the multicoloured appearance of a flash of lightening. This observation brings us back to the diary. A giant foam-rubber cactus serves as a playground for children. Mexico again! Neither does mythology lose its influence. The gapping jaws Jonah's wale turn into a scenic restaurant: pre-stressed concrete arches and cantilevered plexiglass partitions. A modern version of the tower of Babel, a spiral-like structure in fractured sections, makes a toboggan slide.
The industrialisation of construction and the development of concrete and plastics take the utopian character out of Soshana's projects. Yet – will there be an opportunity? Will she be able to realise her big children's toys for the enjoyment of grown-ups? This playful architecture fits in well with the social function of art in our changing society. Tomorrow's architecture will exist on this rediscovery of poetic expression. It was high time for the painters to leave the ivory towers of their studios and to live intensely the spirit of the feast: this is the price of the transformation of daily routine. And the immense need for visual transformation which is felt in our time is neither a luxury of industrialisation nor an illusion of the mass media. It shows the survival instinct of a civilisation which is completely dominated by science and whose salvation lies in the permanence of humanism in technical achievement.
Soshana's playful architectural designs come close to her construction toy which consists of magnetised structure elements which can be put together and taken apart at the user's whim. It is a kind of Meccano seen and adjusted by Vasarely or Agam. A construction toy, certainly, but it permits complete randomness. The freeing of the spirit by playing fingers.
This "art-play" or "play-art" allows innumerable matches, intersections and graduations. At the beginning of the birth of a language all ideas are influx and this is to be expected. Let us not reproach Soshana that she entered a little late into this enchanted world, which also includes the active involvement in the metamorphosis of our planet. All roads lead to Rome. Hers was a long one. She had the integrity which allowed her not to wipe away the stages of her progress along the way, but to accumulate miles of feelings, thoughts and hopes. This integrity will bear fruit once Soshana has returned definitely into the real world, the World of all men.
Pierre Restany, Paris 1969, art historian and art critic