A celebration of Israeli printmaking

18 artists reveal their passion in a Jerusalem exhibition that includes several schools and studios.

By
September 24, 2018 21:37
4 minute read.
A celebration of Israeli printmaking

'BALAD AISTIWAYIYA JAMILA’ by Mati Harel . (photo credit: HAGAY HACOHEN)

 
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The New Gallery Artists’ Studios is located at gate 22 of Teddy Stadium, just a few steps away from the massive sports center at gate 21. If you didn’t know there was an art gallery at Teddy Stadium, you’re not alone.

“We always get people who walk in by accident and ask if they can buy match tickets,” says director and head curator Tamar Gispan-Greenberg.

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“They often stay just to take a look at the art anyway so maybe it’s a good thing.”

Established by Hedva Shemesh in 1996, when Ehud Olmert served as the mayor of the capital, the gallery is currently home to 18 resident artists who use the studio space they were given to create art and a 300 square meter exhibition space.

“We wanted to produce a large art event that will deal with the origin and roles of printmaking in Israeli art,” Gispan-Greenberg explains.

Prints and printmaking encompass a large field in modern art. Japanese prints, brought to Western markets after the US Navy Black Ships forced the Japanese to begin trade with the West in 1853, inspired artists Claude Monet, Edgar Dega, Camille Pissarro and Mary Cassatt to shape impressionism.

The mass-produced aspect of silkscreen printmaking appealed to Andy Warhol so much he created “Campbell’s Soup Cans” and the Marilyn Monroe series, works that cemented pop culture and became American icons.

Francisco Dega was a prolific printmaker and used printmaking to depict bullfighting and create his posthumously published Disasters of War.

Japanese prints also made a lasting impression on Israeli art via German-born Israeli woodcut artist Jacob Pins, who collected them and introduced them to generations of Israeli artists.

“Our goal in this exhibition is not merely to recreate an old artistic skill,” says head curator of the Jerusalem Print Workshops Irena Gordon, “but also to create something new that pushes the boundaries of this medium.”

One such work is Balad aistiwayiya Jamila (Arabic for “a beautiful tropical land”) by Mati Harel. Harel printed on lead. The bulkiness and dimensions of the work are in contrast with the cultural quote it relates to. In a clever mirror act, Harel translated the title of a famous Hebrew pop-song from the 1970’s into Arabic. Originally a Portuguese song Pais Topical that was translated and adapted for a 1977 album of Brazilian popular music for the Israeli market, the song is still very popular today. The print then is twice charged with meaning.

The first is an intellectual twisting act that charges the work with the cultural tension between Hebrew and Arabic speaking communities. (Who is the owner of this beautiful tropical land?) The second tension is between the pop-like quality of the visual work and the weight of the lead that allows it.

Orit Hofshi takes center stage in the exhibition with her 2018 work Realization.

Hofshi is highly unusual in the dedication she has towards print and the large scale of her works. While many artists employ expert printmakers to realize a project they have in mind, Hofshi is an expert carver of pine wood and creates her own printing blocks by hand, an elaborate procedure not often seen today. She employs Yizhar Nuiman from the Tot Niyar paper-making workshop in Zichron Yaakov to produce the Kuzo and Abaca papers she prints on.


The result is stunning, a large shrine-like object composed of the massive wooden printblocks with one large-scale print in excellent sharp quality.

One of the center pieces of the exhibition, the work brings to mind qualities of dedication and commitment that seems more Japanese in spirit then Israeli.

“Many people are unaware of the fact printmaking is still going on,” explains Gordon, “and that the variety and diversity it offers still attracts artists today.”

One such artist is Einat Amir, who won the 2018 Alima Award from the Mishkan Museum of Art in Ein Harod. The works for which she was awarded the prize are presented in the exhibition.

They are meticulous, high-detail prints that dare to leave the wall and become objects and sculptures in their own right. Known as “the mother of Israeli printmaking,” Alima Rita was vital to the establishment of printmaking across the country.

Another ground-breaking work shown in the gallery is an animated film created using screen printing. A Love Letter to the One I Made Up is a 2017 short film created by Rachel Gutgarts that utilizes red and blue to tell the story of a young woman seeking her beloved in a city.

The short film is ingenious in the usage of water as a liquid that the characters cannot contain when they drink it, walk through it in the rain, or swim through. The unusual soundtrack composed by Aviv Stern makes this brief film a delight for the ears as well as the eyes.

So if you can, use the new bike paths that lead to Teddy Stadium and feast your eyes on the current artwork being produced with the old, yet always changing, art of printmaking.

Contemporary Local Print” will be open until October 3.

During the holiday of Sukkot the galleries will be open during these hours:

The New Gallery Artists’ Studios 1 Agudat Sport Beitar, Teddy Stadium (Gate 22) Sept 26-27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The New Gallery of Musrra 9 HaAyn Chet St. Sept 25–27 from 10 a.m to 5 p.m

Jerusalem Print Workshop 8 Shivtei Israel St. Sept 26 – 27 between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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