No place like home

Artist Rifkah Goldberg captures the essence of everyday Jerusalem life and its people in her latest exhibit.

June 25, 2010 21:05
2 minute read.
Rifkah Goldberg's color interpretation of Jerusale

market stall drawing 311. (photo credit: Rifkah Goldberg)

Seasoned vendors sitting outside Mahane Yehuda market storefronts, elderly women preparing sandwiches in Beit Frankforter – in these scenes of everyday Jerusalem life, Rifkah Goldberg finds her inspiration.

Since arriving in Jerusalem 35 years ago, Goldberg has made the city her subject, making it her mission to scour Jerusalem in search of “unusual,” beauty, she says. From Mamilla to Nahalaot Shiva, this British native has previous series that depict broken and weathered chairs left outside as well as changing neighborhoods. “I find unconventional beauty more interesting,” Goldberg said.

Focused around scenes from the Mahane Yehuda market and Beit Frankforter, the art in Goldberg’s new exhibit, titled “Jerusalem Faces and Places,” is an extension of her older work. Through her painting technique, the artist does not try to present precise depictions of reality but rather figurative art. “Her paintings are alive, as if movement is captured, and not frozen,” Amos Rabin, curator of the exhibit, stated in a press release. “The painter conveys a feeling of truth rather than being totally faithful to reality, with every detail playing its part in the scene.”

For Goldberg, Jerusalem – with its unique lighting and stone – has been a great source of inspiration. “I think that Jerusalem is a magical place,” she said.

Even though Goldberg has enjoyed painting the world’s holiest city, the life of an urban artist is by no means glamorous. She recounts her trials and tribulations of carrying her painting materials aboard city buses or even painting in city centers without disturbances from passersby. “People continually ask me to include them in my painting or just ask me what I am doing,” she said. “The interruptions can be really annoying.”

The benefits of working within the scene of a painting, however, outweigh the short-term obstacles for Goldberg. For behind every work, there is a different story. When Goldberg first started painting “Yitschak the Schug Man,” the subject, Yitschak, was unwilling to have Goldberg include him in her work. After many weeks of interaction, however, when Goldberg approached him again, he agreed. “I realized that it would have completed the painting quite nicely to include him,” Goldberg said. “And after getting to know me, he must have changed his mind... I suppose it was a comfort thing.”

Goldberg’s painting of Yitschak also included Haegoz 30, a designer store that sits alongside Yitschak’s stand. Limor Tov, who runs the store next to Yitschak’s booth with Rachel Shmuel, said that she enjoyed having Goldberg working outside her store. “We loved it,” Tov said. “It was fun because when someone is creating – and we are also creating clothes – it makes the entire environment very nice. Everyone around it was happy to be part of it.”

Not only did Tov enjoy Goldberg’s presence in the market, but the store owner also believes that the fact that Goldberg painted in real time – that she did not take a picture and work from home – was a deciding factor in the high quality of the final product. “By living in the place, being there made a major difference,” Tov said. “She felt everything; she smelt everything; and she was involved in everything.”

Jerusalem Faces and Places can be viewed at The Artist’s House, Shmuel Hanagid 12, Jerusalem. The exhibit runs until July 10. For more info visit

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