Linking art with Judaism

The Adi Foundation was established to encourage a connection between Jewish values and arts and design.

miron art 88 298 (photo credit: )
miron art 88 298
(photo credit: )
The One for All group show now at the Jerusalem Artists House is a collaboration of the Adi Foundation and The Israel Museum, pointing the way, perhaps, to the use of this venue as an alternative space while the museum undergoes two years of renovations that will close a great part of its gallery space (beginning late next month). Trouble is, there is no parking near this venue, which is best visited only on Shabbat. The Adi Foundation was established in 2001 in memory of Adi Dermer (nee Blumberg) with the purpose of encouraging a connection between Jewish values and arts and design. Every two years, a subject is selected by the foundation's steering committee, and an international competition for "The Adi Prize for Jewish Expression in Art and Design" is held. The finalists are subsequently presented in an exhibition. This year, the 13 finalists are joined by a few other artists connected with the theme, selected by curator Timna Seligman. A number of the works are only obtusely connected to the anyway ephemeral theme. What the visitor wants to see are creations interesting in themselves. Happily, there is a good deal that catches the eye. Some of the entries take their inspiration from Judaism and Jewish ritual (works by Dov Abramson, Orit Adar Bechar, Muli Ben Sasson, and Yossi Galanti) while others deal with the role of the individual within contemporary society (David Wakstein and the Painting Team, Dana Levy, and Israel Rabinovitz). There are also expressions that transverse the groups, connecting Judaism as a communal religion and its role in society in a conceptual and formal manner (Uriel Miron and Mor Arkadir, winner of the prize). Miron's sculpture created from pieces of stacked plastic chairs evokes the skeletons of dinosaurs in a museum of natural history, but its function here depends on its ironic Yiddish title Nur Oyf Simchas ("We Should Meet Only At Celebrations"). I was particularly impressed with Zelig Segal's mini-sculpture based on Hebrew lettering in beautifully finished aluminum. Segal is one of Israel's most notable artist-craftsmen and a designer of great originality and integrity. Also impressive is Jack Jano's stack of roughly finished iron houses that are ciphers for different cultures. Conceptual art appears in several minimalist sculptures, one of a series of desks that house TV screens instead of drawers (Orit Behar Adar). There are several very fine examples of how digital photography can result in extended horizontal formats, several of a lyrical nature marking the worship of children and nature (Rachel Zivony). The photo of a manly border policeman in full combat rig being admired by a haredi youth and a tiny Purim Arab, is a gem (Alex Levac). Till August 18. IN THE mezzanine gallery are elegant and technically fascinating etchings by Australian-born Judy Orstav, which combine calligraphic strokes of a Japanese bent with abstract forms, all bounded by a simple shape recalling that of an opened kimono. The shape came about by chance. Having discarded an old etched plate, Orstav cut it into a rough T-shape. The first prints from the plate, also on view, led her immediately to a double reading of the image suggesting the form of a Japanese kimono, which she then proceeded to elaborate. Orstav exploits aquatint and inked surfaces passed through the press together with folded rice paper. The neverrepetitive results are quietly spectacular. All were made at the Jerusalem Print Workshop. (Till July 15). DOWN IN the entrance gallery, Bezalel architecture graduate (2006) Noit Nofar reverses the usual planning process, developing different possible uses of vacant areas and lots, turning them into accessible spaces for public usage until they become available for development. Her computer-generated architectural demonstrations are impressive, but I doubt if the non-professional visitor will be able to make much of them in relation to her ideas.