Paper trail in Ashdod

The common denominator that weaves in and out of four exhibitions at the Ashdod Museum of Art at the Monart Center is paper.

ashdod museum of art 88 (photo credit: )
ashdod museum of art 88
(photo credit: )
The common denominator that weaves in and out of four exhibitions currently at the Ashdod Museum of Art at the Monart Center is paper. The wide range of watercolors, prints and drawings by Israeli artists covers two generations, with many works having been created as preliminary studies for larger, more complicated paintings and sculptures. Kicking off the quartet is an exhibition of ink and mixed media drawings by Osias Hofstatter (1905-1994), whose perverse figures and twisted faces - often devoid of full bodies, lurking in abysmal black and sepia backgrounds - have been attributed to the anguish and fears of life experiences that enveloped two World Wars and their aftermaths. The embodiment of the wandering Jew, Hofstatter was forced into exile and hiding several times as he made his way from Poland to Vienna, to Holland, Belgium, Spain, France, ultimately landing in Israel in 1957. Here he worked as a night watchman on building sites until 1970, when he finally devoted all his time to creating works of art. The Hofstatter Foundation has donated the 41 works in the show to the museum's permanent collection. Previously displayed at the Israel Museum and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Portfolios from The Gottesman Etching Center, Kibbutz Cabri, is a wide ranging demonstration of the intaglio medium in all its manifestations - including dry point and etching accompanied by aquatint, mezzotint, soft and hard ground and spit-bite techniques. In 2000 Dov and Rachel Gottesman initiated a master class at Cabri for 14 Israeli artists taught by the popular American painter, sculptor and master printmaker Jim Dine. The results of that workshop form the backbone of the Portfolios exhibition. Mostly printed in black on exclusive buff paper, Ofer Lellouche's series entitled Ein Kerem stands out as esspecially noteworthy. Hila Lulu Lin has used several print techniques in a unique manner that combines blank panels with full-page colored images for six untitled landscapes, while Jan Rauchwerger describes landscapes and cypress trees in Samaria and Ein Harod with a poetic force that is quite beautiful. In addition to rather simplified illustrations by Menashe Kadishman, Dani Karavan and Philip Rantzer, the other artists include Sigalit Landau, Yigal Ozeri, Elie Abrahami and Yossi Banai, Alex Kremer, Sharon Poliakine, Zadok Ben-David and Micha Ullman. A long-time resident of Ashdod, the late Solly Levy (1921-2004) is being honored with a retrospective of his watercolors and collages. The most revealing aspect of this show is the manner in which Levy was able to move with ease between decorative figuration, abstraction and symbolic styles. Levy was an accomplished watercolorist whose career took him to major cities in Europe and America, but, despite the occasional exhibition in Israel, he never seems to have made an impact on the local art scene. The last exhibition at Monart is a display of 16 prints culled from archives by many artists, a gift to the Ashdod Museum by Bank Discount and anonymous donors. Among the participants are Tumarkin, Arikha, Bak, Kupferman, Shemi and Nikel. Ashdod Museum of Art, Monart Center, 16 Ha'gedud Ha'ivri, (08) 854-5180. All exhibitions run through August.