‘A little jewel in Talbieh’

Private gallery goes public with contemporary Eight Artists exhibition.

NIRA SPITZ artwork 370 (photo credit: Courtesy)
NIRA SPITZ artwork 370
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Marrache Gallery specializes in contemporary Israeli and Jewish art, as well as collectors’ pieces by 1920s students at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design such as Ludwig Bloom, Zev Raban and Boris Schatz, explains collector and art dealer Raphael Marrache, who also promotes recent Bezalel graduates. In-house artists include Yoram Raanan, Noah Lubin and Eduardo Groesman, Eliahu Sidi and sculptor Paul Taylor. Opening hours are by appointment.
“It is a little jewel hidden in Talbieh,” says Etti Kornbluth, a partner in the gallery. “But the fact that it is a private gallery doesn’t mean the art is more expensive, or that it is not open to the general public,” she explains, “It means we welcome people who are serious and who appreciate art – usually friends of friends, and people who call in advance for appointments.”
The gallery was inaugurated in Yemin Moshe in 2007 with an exhibition of works by British artist James Foot, whose watercolors of Jerusalem reflect its unique light.
Foot is one of the “Eight Artists” in the present exhibition, which runs until Hanukka. The others are Ilan Itach, Yitzhak Greenfield, Mordechai Beck, Maayan, Nira Spitz, Jerusalem master in mixed-media sculpture Paul Taylor, French-born Eliyahu Sidi, who brings the concept of illustrated Jewish scriptures into the millennium, and the late Phyllis Lawson.
The gallery will soon be showcasing work from well known Tel Aviv sculptress Betty Wachsstock-Schonfeld.
ILAN ITACH’s family comes from Morocco and Toledo, Spain. Itach confesses that he is a self-taught artist. In 1998 he met his future mentor, artist and Bezalel art teacher Ivan Schwebel, in the Ein Kerem forest. Schwebel gave him a pine cone and said, “Draw what you see, not what you are thinking.” After three months of drawing the cone, Itach decided to try charcoal, and one night he took his drawing over to Schwebel.
“I had got it right, found the essence. We became friends. He taught me to make the colors of the Renaissance, we talked a lot about books and drank wine.”
The Spanish flamenco dance has inspired Itach’s painting for the past five years. His travels annually to Spain with his wife, who dances and teaches flamenco.
Itach’s Seville exhibition of 12 flamenco paintings has been open to the public for the past two years at the Museo de Baile Flamenco Cristina Houyos.
“After five years painting flamenco I am almost finished,” he says. Itach also paints Cervantes’s Don Quixote, a text with newly-discovered Kabbalistic nuances.
The artist has now begun a self-portrait, as part of the process on moving on to another topic. “I need to go deeper in my way of looking inside,” he says.
Itach has exhibited at the Tova Osman Gallery, Tel Aviv; the Jerusalem Theater; the Scottish Church, Jerusalem; and La Bastille in Paris. Two of his portraits of David Ben-Gurion are part of a private Presidents Portraits Collection.
YITZHAK Greenfield’s father was “a poor Jewish tailor, my mother was a housewife. Nevertheless, everyone in my family drew and painted – brothers, sisters, cousins,” he says. At 14, he enrolled in the Educational Alliance Art School at a Jewish center in Brooklyn. Later he studied art history and literature under Haim Gross and Abba Ostrausky at Brooklyn College.
“At 19 I left college and told my family: ‘I am going to a kibbutz, shalom!’” The year was 1951. He joined a Hashomer Hatza’ir group going to Kibbutz Dalia. “I married, then to moved to Kibbutz Galon, then to Kibbutz Ein Shofet, and now I live in Ein Kerem.”
Two years ago Greenfield had a oneman- show at Jerusalem’s Minotaur Gallery on Ben-Yehuda Street, of work from his kibbutz period that gallery owner Yaron Lavitz had rediscovered. “I had forgotten about it,” Greenfield says.
For the past 20 years his work has been ideograms: “A composition, from an idea, like a hieroglyphic.” Greenfield’s multitextural work is inspired by Kabbalistic amulets he finds in books.
“I am a Zionist, I am proud to be [one], and it is central to my work,” he says.
Greenfield has taught art and exhibited at prestigious universities and museums in Israel and abroad, as well as privately.
NIRA SPITZ paints “every corner of Jerusalem.” Her works are realistic renditions of the love she feels for all parts of the city and its people.
As a child, Spitz moved with her family from Haifa to New York, and eventually attended Queens College, Hunter College and the Art Students League. Due to her husband’s work, she spent five years in Venezuela, 10 years in Brazil and two years in Hong Kong. She studied at Escuelas Artes Plásticas Cristobal Rojas in Venezuela, Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage in Brazil and the Hong Kong Arts Center. In London she learned under British portraitist Clarence Crawford and at the Hampstead Garden Suburb Institute.
“I was influenced by many landscapes,” says Spitz.
Spitz counts calligraphy and illumination among her active interests. She also illustrates books, and has exhibited all over the world.
MORDECHAI BECK made aliya from England in 1973. In the 1960s, at age 16, between yeshiva and university, he attended Hornsey Art School for two years. “I worked very intensely,” he says.
“Then I gave up art for 20 years, except for illustrations and posters.”
Following a print-making course at Arik Kilemnik’s Jerusalem Print Workshop, he created two limited edition art books, Maftir Yonah (the Book of Jonah) and Ushpizin, with calligrapher David Moss; as well as linocuts to illustrate Shir HaShirim (the Song of Songs) using Izzy Pludowski’s original Hebrew font.
Copies of his books have been bought by the Library of Congress and several universities, including Yale and Berkeley.
Shir Hashirim was bought by the Museum of Modern Art-MOMA in New York.
A few years ago Beck created Garden of Eden-themed oil paintings. The gallery is showing his naive oil paintings with musical themes, as well as some original prints.
He has exhibited in Tel Aviv, New York, Los Angeles, Moscow and St. Petersburg.
MAAYAN has been drawing since she was six, and painting in oils since the age of eight. She studied in her native New York, at the Art Students League, the National Academy School of Fine Art and the School of Visual Arts; as well as at the Marchutz School in Provence, France.
“Things for me are always evolving,” she says. “My paintings do not represent objects, they are messages. I search for the light. I do not, for example, specifically paint Bereshit [the Book of Genesis], but the emotion behind it.”
She has also painted in Bali; San Miguel de Allende, Mexico; Vermont; and what she calls “other places of light and inspiration.”
Her abstract Zalman’s Suite series, exhibited at the gallery, is illustrative of “the realm of spirit within abstraction meets the language of the mystics.”
The Marrache Gallery is located at 11 Dubnov Street, in the Talbieh neighborhood of Jerusalem. The exhibition runs until Hanukka and may be viewed by appointment by calling (054) 303-1410 or (050) 950- 9003.
Marion Fischel contributed to this report.