About Art: Religion, naiveté and impressionism

A round-up of some of the most intriguing art on display in the country this month.

June 13, 2019 11:29
4 minute read.
Tel Aviv art museum 521

Tel Aviv art museum 521. (photo credit: Tel Aviv Museum of Art)


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In Statu Quo: Structures of Negotiation

“In Statu Quo” explores the contested holy sites in Israel, diving deep into the importance and meanings they have on their adherents; religiously and as part of every-day routine. The exhibition covers the Mugrabi ascent – the only non-Muslim access to the Temple Mount – the Cave of the Patriarchs, Rachel’s Tomb, the Western Wall Plaza and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Through sculptures, photographs, graphics and texts, it explores these structures’ pasts, their presents and their possible futures, walking a fine line between conflict and tolerance, yet stopping short of endorsing the modus vivendi. The exhibition, which was the theme of the Israeli pavilion at last year’s Biennale di Venezia, shares with visitors messages of coexistence, of religious meanings and even secular perspectives of sites we hear so much about, yet to most of us are distant news items. Sites about which we sometimes forget what they are truly all about.

In Statu Quo: Structures of Negotiation
Until June 15, 2019
Marcus B. Mizne Gallery, March Rich and Gabrielle Rich Wing
Tel Aviv Museum of Art

In Statu Quo exhibition (Elad Sarig)

The Believers

“The Believers” explores the deep connection between faith and art, challenging the idea that faith belongs to conformity, while art opposes and criticizes this convention. Employing the close etymology of the words amen and artist in Hebrew, which consist of the same letters (alef, mem, nun), the exhibition’s brochure says, “creating a change in a given situation does not necessarily require resistance but rather requests its full and sincere acceptance.”

The exhibition displays 15 Israeli artists, in their own space and through their own medium, at the center of which stands controversial Israeli artist Moshe Gershuni, who has been sold for as high as $60,000 at the likes of Sotheby’s. Gershuni has been featured heavily at Israeli exhibitions since his death in 2017.

Two traditional religious symbols, the snake and the moon, are used as a common thread of the different generations and styles that are exhibited in the two-floor museum.

Museums of Bat Yam, or MoBY, warrants a visit on its own accord. “The Believers” is the last of a trilogy of exhibitions that explored the current political, social and economic climate in relation to the creation of art. In the same manner, MoBY serves not only as a space for contemporary art but also puts and emphasis on educational programs and pushes a platform for dialogue between artists, curators, critics and the general public.
The Believers

Until August 17, 2019
MoBY-Museums of Bat Yam

Majestic Simplicity: The Naïve Art of Argentina and Brazil /
Let the Sunshine In

Did you know that Israel hosts the only gallery in the world that is dedicated to international naïve art?
GINA, or the Gallery of International Naïve Art, is located on Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Street and dedicates itself to the special genre, which acknowledges self-taught artists and the scenarios of daily life they portray in their art. Naïve art usually is void of proportions and perspective. Most paintings are flat, but they celebrate the human narrative.
“The works are colorful, idyllic, nostalgic, always figurative,” says Ma’ayan Israeli, the gallery’s manager. “There are no harsh realities.”

In “Majestic Simplicity,” the gallery shows works from Brazil and Argentina, highlighting how neighboring countries are influenced and portrayed in wildly different ways.

“Argentina is very European, very urban. Scenes include coffee shops, streets, tango. Brazilian works on the other hand show more forests and villages.”

The South American exhibition runs through June 14, before giving space to Central American works (but not only), beginning June 20. “Let the Sunshine In” will celebrate the coming of the summer and portray naïve works from countries such as Mexico, Guatemala and Nicaragua.

Majestic Simplicity: The Naive Art of Argentina and Brazil
Until June 14, 2019
Let the Sunshine In
June 20- August 16, 2019
GINA - Gallery of International Naïve Art

Summer Blossoms, Alonso Flores, El Salvador, 2017 Acrylic on canvas (courtesy)

Marsden Hartley: Slow Homecoming

The Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art juxtaposes two paintings by the American Impressionist and Modernist painter Marsden Hartley, exploring the world within and without the artist that led to the creation of the artworks.

The subject, and name, of one of the paintings is Mont Sainte-Victoire, situated in Provence, France, which served as a frequent theme for Paul Cézanne as well, who had a great impact on Hartley.

The other, later painting represents Hartley’s return to the US, depicting the financial recession.

By way of text that accompanies the exhibition, the visitor dives deep into Hartley’s journey and the influences and experiences that shaped him and the world around him at the time. Poetry, literature and images accompany the narrative that offers a comprehensive view on the artist.

The opportunity to see the Hartley pieces could not be timelier, fresh off the back of the artist breaking his own auction record in late May. His Abstraction, from around 1912-1913, was sold at Christie’s American Art auction in New York, beating estimates of $4 million-$6m., being bought at $6,744,500. His previous record was established 11 years (and a day) ago, with his Lighthouse going for a little over $6.3m., at Christie’s as well.

Marsden Hartley: Slow Homecoming
May 25-August 24, 2019
Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art

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Mont Sainte-Victoire by Marsden Hartley (courtesy)

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