The Fresh Paint Contemporary Art Fair has built up a decent head of steam over the past five years and has grown incrementally. After four years of being held at the train station site in south Tel Aviv, this year the event takes place at the new high school complex on Shoshana Persitz Street from May 15-19.

According to the event’s supremo, Sharon Tillinger, it was a success waiting to happen. “You can’t possibly compare where we are today compared with the Fresh Paint at the beginning. It’s like comparing a five-year- old child with a newborn baby. The event is so much bigger and more important now.”

Visitors to this year’s fair can observe presentations by some of the country’s leading galleries and some of the major newer ones, while the Greenhouse slot showcases works by a select, independent group of local artists.

The latter is designed to provide the nascent careers of up-and-coming, unrepresented artists with a much-needed kick-start. The Greenhouse group incorporates 46 artists, who were selected by a panel of lecturers and museum and gallery curators.

The names in the emerging artists’ lineup include Rona Alfiya, Gur Arie, Naama Hadany, Adam Sher, Gabriela Vainsencher and Amir Yatziv.

In addition to the painter incubator, Fresh Paint also includes the Video Greenhouse, with video artworks created by 10 independent artists, including Oscar Abosh, Rotem Balva, Nadav Bin-Nun, Luciana Kaplun and Nevet Yitzhak. The artists were selected by Video Greenhouse curator Edna Moshenson. Israeli video artists have gained a global reputation, so this area of the Fresh Paint art fair is likely to be of particular international interest.

Tillinger says she and co-founder and Fresh Paint curator Yifat Gurion take their roles very seriously and are always looking for areas to tweak.

“We are far more professional than we were five years ago. We never finish a fair fully satisfied, despite the successes. We always sit down after the event and scrutinize everything that happened, to see where we went wrong or where we can increase efficiency.”

Fresh Paint, in fact, forms part of a burgeoning Tel Aviv, and national, arts scene. Earlier this month, the Ted Arison Family Foundation-supported ArtPort Tel Aviv project announced the names of half a dozen emerging artists who will benefit from the foundation’s generous support over the next 12 months. And the Municipality of Tel Aviv launched the city’s Art Year at the end of March, following the opening of three new or refurbished local cultural facilities – the new wing of the Tel Aviv Museum, an extension of the Tel Aviv Cinematheque and the reopening of Habimah Theater.

There appears to be some substantial dynamics in full flow here.

“Our aim, from the outset, was to act as a catalyst for the arts field,” Tillinger declares. “We have clearly achieved that objective. I think we definitely fitted into a slot where there was need for a push in the right direction, but that’s never enough. You’ve got to know how to go about it.”

Tillinger is keen to point out that the art fair is a work in progress. “Fresh Paint was around before Art Year and will continue after Art Year. We are part of the local arts scene evolution, but we do not intend to vanish after Art Year ends.”

Tillinger and Gurion seem to be going about the Fresh Paint fair in the requisite manner and are doing their best to build on past successes. This year’s fair, for example, includes an exhibition by Natalia Zourabova, winner of last year’s annual Igal Ahouvi Collection Most Promising Artist Award, which is given to an artist from the Greenhouse project.

The artist receives a grant of NIS 40,000 and gets a solo exhibition at the following year’s fair. Zourabova will show new paintings and an animation piece.

Fresh Paint also does its best to get the word out beyond our national borders. One work by an independent artist will be selected for Under the Hammer, the fair’s collaboration with Sotheby’s, which will see the chosen work sold off at the international auction house’s New York facility. The latter will certainly do a lot for the winning artist’s international career. All expenses are covered by Sotheby’s, and all proceeds go to the artist.

But, as any marketing executive will tell you, it’s not just about getting the product out there – you have to draw your potential consumers in and make sure they understand what you are offering.

“We have to educate the public about art,” says Tillinger. “We have to teach the public to appreciate art and to understand the importance of art in their daily lives. We get over 30,000 visitors at the fair. How long does it take a museum to bring that number of visitors in? The public clearly believes that our event is something they want to know about and take part in. That’s very encouraging.”

Art patrons and art lovers can purchase works by independent artists, which will be on sale at prices that range from NIS 500 to NIS 10,000.

For more information about Fresh Paint: www.freshpaint.co.il

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