Art imitating art

Renowned Israeli artist Yair Garbuz presents his latest exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

November 29, 2016 20:23
2 minute read.
Renowned Israeli artist Yair Garbuz presents his latest exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

Renowned Israeli artist Yair Garbuz presents his latest exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Israeli contemporary artist Yair Garbuz (b. 1945) is well known for his irreverent and theatrical style, which can be viewed firsthand in his current exhibition, “I Am Painters,” on show at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art from today through May 6.

“The exhibition presents Garbuz’s work as a theatrical, comic show, at times circus-like, grotesque and even carnivalesque,” said Suzanne Landau, director and chief curator of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

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This is Garbuz’s third solo exhibition at the museum (the first was in 1973 when he was 28 years old, and the second was in 1986), and marks his receipt of the museum’s 2015 Rappaport Prize for an Established Israeli Artist.

The exhibition features a selection of Garbuz’s works from the past five years, all of which emphasize the motifs of replication and imitation.

While this is a prevailing focus throughout Garbuz’s oeuvre, in this exhibition he brings the act of parodying, gesturing and impersonation to a peak.

“Copying is the most beautiful among the crafts” said Garbuz.

The artist specifically chose the title “I Am Painters” from a caption that appears in one of the paintings he presents in the exhibition.

“The conversion of a single painter into many painters refers, primarily, to the horde of Israeli and Western modernist painters whom Garbuz imitates/ copies in his paintings” said the exhibition curator, Ellen Ginton. “The linguistic error in the shift from singular to plural is only one among many linguistic and painterly ‘errors’ that feed the humor, nonsense and carnivalesque in Garbuz’s painting theater.”

Humor has played a significant role in Garbuz’s work since the beginning of his artistic career, and the humor in his paintings is delivered through both visual and verbal gestures.

“Now more than before, the new paintings reveal Garbuz’s virtuosity and aptitude for games, with either language or painterly styles” said Landau.

Eleven of the paintings in “I Am Painters” reference in jest, stylistically and in title, European and American modernist painters. Of the numerous painters Garbuz alludes to, Pablo Picasso seems to appear most frequently.

“As a young boy, Garbuz saw a work by Picasso in an exhibition of French painting at the Tel Aviv Museum” said Ginton. “Perhaps, when it comes to Picasso, the passion for copying comes with a passion for real identification.”

Picasso’s name appears twice in the exhibition paintings, and a handful of works include images that are specifically a pastiche of Picasso.

“It is set deep within my memory.

When I finish working on a painting I am starving, lustful and weak. The exhaustion makes me laugh – devour and laugh. I think I can recreate Picasso’s great passion immediately after he finished working on that painting” said Garbuz.

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