IN AN unassuming building in the center of Jerusalem, contemporary artist Beverly Barkat is working in her white-walled, light-filled art studio where she creates and paints on PVC. Barkat, the wife of Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, is in the final stages of creating a new site-specific installation for a solo exhibition to open in Rome. With the different color soils of the land of Israel, she has related her connection to the modern State of Israel through the stories of the 12 tribes of ancient Israel and the colored stones of the High Priest’s hoshen or breast plate from the Temple in Jerusalem in a powerful 4-meter towering installation that she has named “After the Tribes.”
Barkat was born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1966, moving to Israel with her parents in 1976. The daughter of two artists, she grew up immersed in art. After her degree in fine arts from the esteemed Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem, she began working with clay, metal and glass, but later shifted to drawing and oil painting after attending an inspiring master class led by Israel Hershberg at the Jerusalem Studio School. Following the success of her exhibition shown during the Venice Biennale last year, Barkat was invited by the Israel Embassy in Italy, together with the Italian museum association, Polo Museale del Lazio, to create an installation as part of the ceremonies celebrating Israel’s 70th anniversary.
Barkat drew on her wealth of artistic knowledge including metal work, architecture and space design, and painting to develop a work which encompasses her whole identity as an Israeli and as a Jew.
Simeon (Shimon). “The title ‘After the Tribes’ has two layers of meaning,” reveals Barkat. “I started this project by spending a lot of time studying and researching the stories of the tribes – going ‘after’ them, looking for any traces and energy they left behind. Then I started to connect these stories to the issues of the Jewish people today, to retrace our origins, our genetic code, to gain a more textured understanding of our past in order to allow us to have a richer future. I am opening a discussion into how we can relate to the legacy of the Twelve Tribes of Israel and, thousands of years later, how we might look at ourselves today.”“After the Tribes,” curated by Giorgia Calò, will be placed in the splendid Salone delle Vedute in the Museo Boncompagni Ludovisi. Once the location of Julius Ceasar’s villa, today the site houses the Boncompagni Ludovisi Decorative Arts Museum of the National Gallery of Modern Art of Rome. The exhibition, also supported by the Nomas Foundation for contemporary art in Rome, will open in October and then travel to other countries before returning to Israel.