Art Roundup: Remembering Breitberg-Semel & ‘Garden of Earthly Delights’ 

Art Roundup intends to offer readers a monthly glance at some of the finest art exhibitions currently being shown across the country.

 End of the line butcher shop. (photo credit: Sasha Okun)
End of the line butcher shop.
(photo credit: Sasha Okun)

Tel Aviv

Honor the memory of late art curator and writer Sarah Breitberg-Semel by attending a special discussion focused on her unparalleled contribution to Israeli art to be held on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art (27 Shaul Hamelech Blvd.) with art historian Dr. Gideon Efrat and writer Oded Wolkstein, among others. Admission is free.

Those seeking to learn more about Breitberg-Semel, who was the editor of Studio art magazine during the entire ‘90s and curated the highly influential 1986 exhibition Dalot HaHomer [impoverished materiality] in Israeli Art, will do well to visit a special online Hebrew-only tribute to her memory created by the Institute for Israeli Art (shorturl.at/xzAM9).

Breitberg-Semel herself is linked to the 1986 exhibition with a deep sense of religiosity, as indicated by the full title of the exhibition, which linked a quote from Deuteronomy 30:14 “the word is very near you” to an entire generation of artists.

 Sarah Breitberg-Semel (credit: Valeri Proshin) Sarah Breitberg-Semel (credit: Valeri Proshin)

Kibbutz Be’eri

Attend the Friday, December 9, 11 a.m. opening of Dream Shaper by Yael Serlin. The solo exhibition is joined with the release of a same-titled artist’s book printed in a limited number of copies (150), which will be offered to visitors at a discount. Serlin, an observant artist, deals with the weight of Jewish memory in labor-intensive, craft-oriented manners.

Under curator Meydad Eliyahu, Serlin took part in the 2021 Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow where she co-created with other women large quilts with images taken from Jewish tombstones. In her upcoming exhibition, curated by Sofi Berzon Mackie and Dr. Ziva Yelin, Serlin created a new Kotel Mizrah [a sacred space for prayer] which fuses feminine sensibilities and current Jewish Art. Admission is free. Be’eri Gallery, where the exhibition is held, is located at the Gaza envelope, or the Western Negev, a 90-minute drive from the capital.

 A work by Yael Serlin. (credit: Shay Ben Efraim) A work by Yael Serlin. (credit: Shay Ben Efraim)

Rishon Lezion, Municipal Art Gallery

Artist Sasha Okun offers the viewer generous Israeli triptychs, lavishly painted with humor and erudition, which are a precise counterweight to Dalot HaHomer mentioned earlier. These fantastical works, now shown at The Temple of Life exhibition curated by Efi Gen and Keren Weisshaus, are a tribute to Jerusalem’s Mahne Yehuda Market.

Yet, this is much more than a nod to the bustling marketplace. For a very long time, art produced in this land focused on an aesthetic experience that leaned towards the abstract. When Arie Aroch painted the 1960 work Red House with its written Hebrew question: “How are things How are things in the house How are the people doing how do they live?” he gave the viewer a lean visual language that was a far cry from the richness of other painters, such as Yosl Bergner or Naftali Bezem, who quickly went out of favor.

Okun, in that sense, dares to be sensual in the previously frowned upon Jewish way but also dares to introduce a visual language laden with history and theology previously alien to most of our audience.

Closing Date: March 2023. The Rishon Lezion gallery is at 8 Ahad Ha’am St. Opening Hours are Monday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Mondays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Admission is free. 

Heads up

Mark the passing of another year by attending the Sunday, December 25, 7:30 p.m. premiere of The Garden of Urges Delights. The new theater performance by Stav Palti-Negev is a homage to one of the greatest works in Western Art, the 1510 The Garden of Earthly Delights triptych by Hieronymus Bosch. The 90-minute show takes place at 140 Herzel St., Tel Aviv, with only two more performance dates lined up (Dec 28-29).

Note that the painting is deeply ironic and is a depiction of a sinful, hedonistic lifestyle. Patrons will be invited to experience, drink, taste and touch this iconic work in new ways.

Not suitable for disabled persons, as the performance includes going up and down stairs. This is a Hebrew-only event. NIS 159 per ticket; to purchase, visit: shorturl.at/lqDM6.

Art news

Art curator and editor Rachel Sukman informed the local art scene she is folding Terminal Magazine, a Hebrew and English publication which had been serving the art community since 1995. In an interview with Naama Riba, Sukman explained that the Culture Ministry, which supported the magazine and Sukman’s gallery HaMisrad (the Office) for roughly two decades, declined to offer support this year due to the gallery and the magazine not keeping two separate budgets.

Sukman, who is appealing this decision, slammed the current art world for flocking to view works by, for example, Yayoi Kusama, which she described as “not art, but actions performed by a mentally disturbed woman” (Kusama lives by choice in a mental facility in Tokyo).

Sukman added that most of the viewers who appreciated the large, colorful works are, in her view, idiots. After Studio closed in 2008, Terminal Magazine remained one of the few printed art magazines operating in the country. The influential art portal, Erev Rav [the Multitudes], which also maintains an English language web presence, began printing some editions this year for the sole purpose of obtaining state support from the Culture Ministry. To read Erev Rav, visit: https://www.erev-rav.com/archives/english.

Israeli artist Belu-Simion Fainaru opened The Void of Silence at Timisoara Art Museum, Romania. The exhibition intends to run until Sunday, January 29 and was curated by Ileana Pintilie in the context of the Romanian city serving as a European Capital of Culture next year. Fainaru, who was born in Romania, offers a unique take on current Eastern European power mechanisms (note his work Capitalism Never Happened) as well as the Holocaust in art (Black Milk, a reference to the poem by Paul Celan) and Ein (nothingness), a video art with a burning dress which harks to the poetry of Dahlia Ravikovitch (A Dress of Fire).

 A work by Belu-Simion Fainaru from the 'Void of Silence' at the Timisoara Art Museum, in Romania. (credit: BELU-SIMION FAINARU) A work by Belu-Simion Fainaru from the 'Void of Silence' at the Timisoara Art Museum, in Romania. (credit: BELU-SIMION FAINARU)

Serbian sculptor and performance artist Marina Abramovic was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Haifa on Thursday, November 10, and a future performance by the artist at the northern university is currently being planned. Abramovic is famous for radical, often life-endangering performances. These include passing out during a joint performance with her then-partner Ulay Laysiepen (who passed away in 2020) after the couple sucked all the air out of each other’s lungs in a performance designed to explore total trust.

In her 1997 work Balkan Baroque, Abramovic scrubbed bloody cow bones in a four-day performance held at the Venice Biennale as a response to the war that raged in her native Yugoslavia.

Such extreme acts of self-mortification, ranging from Russian artist Petr Pavlensky nailing his scrotum to the Red Square in Moscow in 2013 to magician David Blaine’s 2000 performance Frozen in Time which nearly cost him his life when he was rescued from a block of ice with chainsaws, gain mass attention to artists and art at the cost of being flashy and simplistic, much like a risky magic trick. How will the planned performance fair? The local art scene is eager to see during the upcoming year.

Art Roundup is a monthly glance at some of the finest art exhibitions currently being shown across the country. Artists, curators and collectors are welcome to send pitches to [email protected] with Art Roundup in the email subject.