The Florentine neighborhood is like the Soho of Tel Aviv. And what would Soho be without its art? Contemporary by Golconda, a new contemporary art gallery, is stepping in to fill that role. With a full display of modern works of art and a mission to serve as a cultural center for contemporary art, Contemporary by Golconda officially opened its doors this week.
Before becoming Contemporary by Golconda, the building on Herzl Street was once a tahini factory and then a printing house. The upper floor is a white space, but the lower floor features white brick walls, artfully exposed pipes and wiring, plus the original floor. According to Director Tami Gilat, the gallery's space is one factor that distinguishes it from other art galleries.
"We looked for a space that feels contemporary. It's not a standard white cube gallery. We kept the space as it was, leaving the industrial feel," Gilat says. "It goes well with contemporary art. We're mixing the old and the new. We looked for a space that will fit with any kind of art. It gives us options and more opportunities."
According to Gilat, Contemporary by Golconda also intends to distinguish itself by being "more than just a gallery." It will also feature a library stocked with books and magazines devoted to contemporary art, and there are plans to offer art courses and lectures, as well as concerts. Founder Ronald Fuhrer, general director of the Golconda Fine Art in Tel Aviv, hopes that the community will make use of the gallery's resources.
"Everyone is perfectly invited wholeheartedly to come and visit and take advantage of this art center. It's a cultural center, a place for art," says Fuhrer.
Contemporary by Golconda's inaugural exhibition is entitled Visiting Card. Ten percent of the proceeds will go to NATAL: Israel Trauma Center for Victims of Terror and War. The exhibition features two works from each of the ten Israeli artists who are currently on the gallery's roster.
"We're showing the visiting card of each artist, kind of like a business card. We chose works that more or less are icons that capture and represent each artist," Gilat says. "Most of the artists are relatively in the beginning of their careers. We chose artists we can promote, artists with artistic potential to grow within the art world and who we can promote within Israel and internationally. We're revealing them to the art world."
Painter Dvir Cohen-Kedar is one of these artists, and he says he's excited to be a part of such a unique gallery.
"It's a beautiful gallery. I haven't seen anything like it in Israel at all. It's impressive, and a great platform for young artists. I'm very happy to be a part of it," Cohen-Kedar says.
In this exhibition, Cohen-Kedar's visiting card shares images that are at once sweet and disturbing.
"They look like cute images, but they feel very wrong," Cohen-Kedar says. "It's about the frailty of the human body and genetic instability. It's also about self-destruction on the one hand and evolution on the other hand. It's also the tragic versus the sympathetic."
In one of Cohen-Kedar's paintings featured in the exhibition, a boy in a
bear suit with a distorted face grips a teddy bear held at arm's length.
"My art deals with adolescence a lot, and the place between adolescence and maturity. This painting looks like a scribbling that could've been made by an adolescent on the back of his schoolbook. But it shows the relationship between an object and the sublime. On the canvas, the image becomes sublime because it's fine art," Cohen-Kedar says.
In the near future, Contemporary by Golconda plans to exhibit works by international artists and to send Israeli works to international galleries. For the opening exhibition, though, the gallery is emphasizing the Israeli connections to contemporary art.
"We Israelis are quite contemporary ourselves. We're an old land, but a new state of Israel which is quite contemporary. People here are exposed to a lot of contemporary architecture, high technology. Contemporary everything. I think contemporary art goes with it," Fuhrer says.
Contemporary by Golconda - 117 Rehov Herzl, Tel Aviv; (03) 682-2777 - is open Mon.-Thurs. from 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Fri. from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., and Sat. from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. "Visiting Card" runs through July 12. For more information, visit contemporary.co.il.