Menashe Kadishman 311.
(photo credit: Elisha Katan)
A simple painting of the Tnuva dairy cooperative’s colorful logo, by the Israel
Prize winning sculptor and painter Menashe Kadishman, is hanging in the front
window of the Matsart auction house’s Jerusalem gallery.
minimal shading, bright colors and popular subject amid the campaign against
high food prices make the work seem out of place next to the elaborate pieces on
display in the gallery, located next to the King David Hotel.
placement is deliberate: the 60 x 50 cm. painting is part of a collection of
three works of similar size the artist recently completed. Matsart is auctioning
the works to raise money for people struggling to cope with rising food prices,
and the minimum bid for each work is NIS 18,000.
The pieces are a
statement about the current consumer campaign against high prices for cottage
cheese and other foods. They highlight Kadishman’s use of art to join the fight
against rising food prices, Uri Rosenbach, executive director of Matsart,
“Here you have an artist making a serious statement through his
artwork: We have to take care of the needy,” Rosenbach said.
Two of the
three paintings include Kadishman’s iconic sheep image. A green cottage cheese
bottle sits in place of the sheep’s nose in one of the paintings, distorting its
Small pieces of a Tnuva cottage cheese container are placed on top
of the sheep’s head in the second painting, and three full-size containers are
lined up by the sheep’s mouth.
The third painting, which captures the
green rolling hills, simple red, white and blue house and lone tree of the Tnuva
logo, also includes lids of cottage cheese containers from Strauss, Tara and
Tnuva – the three main dairy producers.
The painting of the sheep with
the cottage cheese container as its nose has colorful pink, yellow and blue dots
on its forehead, but the other paintings only include the colors of the Tnuva
Kadishman, born in 1932, told The Jerusalem Post that cottage
cheese wrappers and the logo of Tnuva, which controls an estimated 70 percent of
the cottage cheese market, are central images in the three pieces because the
cheese is “a symbol of the situation” in Israel and “poor people can’t afford
While prices of many food products are higher in Israel than in
Europe, the price of cottage cheese has skyrocketed and has elicited a public
boycott and outcry. Prices for the Israeli staple peaked in June at almost NIS 8
for a 250-gram container, compared to NIS 4.91 in 2006, when government price
supervision was lifted.
Concerns are still mounting, and an
interministerial committee was recently formed to investigate the regulatory and
business barriers that affect food prices. It held its first hearing last
“We are in trouble in this country... it upsets me,” the artist
said, adding that he sees many people who cannot afford to buy goods such as
medicine and food. This concern prompted Kadishman to paint the pieces, whose
entire proceeds will be donated to charity, he said.
representative declined to comment on the art or on Kadishman’s
Itzik Elrov, a cantor from Bnei Brak who launched the Facebook
campaign that organized a boycott of cottage cheese in June and whose group
boasts thousands of members, is excited about Kadishman’s project. He visited
the gallery when the pieces were first displayed last week.
important that artists are joining this fight against the price of goods in
Israel,” he said, adding that Kadishman’s paintings show that “the struggle
transcends socioeconomic barriers.
“This is not just a problem for poor
people... it is a struggle that affects all Israelis,” Elrov
Kadishman said he hopes that these works will also hearken back to
a period in Israeli history in which the arts, including songs and paintings,
played a more prominent role in public life. “Once art used to be involved in
showing concern for society,” he said, recounting that after the Sinai Campaign
in 1956, he and his fellow soldiers would sing songs to inspire
“Art is not involved in the life of the country,” he said. “I think
its important that art has a social effect. Art should be more involved in the
life of the country and not stand aside.”