The artist speaks up

Raffi Levie, formative member of the canon of Israeli art, to give series of talks on latest series of paintings.

israeli painting 88.298 (photo credit: )
israeli painting 88.298
(photo credit: )
Raffi Lavie, a formative member of the canon of Israeli art, will give a series of talks, starting today, on an exhibition of paintings now on view at the Givon Gallery. For the past 50 years, Lavie has worked as an artist, critic, curator and teacher of Israeli artists. His works, which combine elements of Action Painting, graffiti, and his signature childlike expressionism, grow out of the principles of Modernism. Nevertheless, Lavie is famous for establishing the Israeli flavor of avant garde by creating personal work rooted in local culture and politics. In his latest series, "Arab-Violet Moustache, Paintings 2003-2005," the viewer discovers repeated, ambiguous forms: loosely drawn figures that reach out to embrace (but not quite enfold) Stars of David partially concealed by colorful scribbles, and a looming figure with purple facial hair. Sometimes the figure is a dead ringer for Saddam Hussein, yet as the pencil-drawn smoke wafts up from his dangling cigarette, he emanates an almost grandfatherly presence. As in other works by Lavie, there's an emphasis on physicality and process, through the figures he scratches into paint and the sweeping brush strokes marking the path of his arm. While his works are anything but minimalist, Lavie the provocateur is often evasive with critics, and has been quoted as saying that "behind the painting there is just a white wall." Yet this influential artist has volunteered to speak in the gallery for the next four Friday afternoons. Lavie's informal discussion (in Hebrew) of this series of paintings will be held Fridays at 12:30, starting today and winding up on February 3, when the exhibition closes. Givon Gallery, Rehov Gordon 35, Tel Aviv; (03) 522-5427. Hours: Monday-Thursday: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5-7:30 p.m., Sunday-Friday: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday: 11 a.m.-2 p.m.