After almost a whole year in which Israel’s art institutions were forced to shutter their gates due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, the country’s cultural scene is finally, albeit cautiously, regaining signs of life. The rapid vaccination drive that has swept throughout Israel is allowing for most museums and art galleries to carefully reopen as of February 23. Is “the culture coming back,” as Culture Minister Chili Tropper’s election campaign boasted last week? That remains to be seen, and heavily depends on the curbing of COVID-19.
While the places exhibiting their work were on lockdown, most local artists were not. Many continued creating in their studios and are now revealing fresh artworks. Still others are currently presenting bodies of work that were already on display before the country’s third curfew came into effect several months ago. Amid a flurry of exhibition openings and a fine selection of cultural events, it’s hard to decide where to go and what to see first. Jerusalem Post contributor and art critic Joy Bernard has carefully selected some of her personal highlights.
Listed below are various intriguing art exhibitions worth visiting. From Jerusalem all the way to the North, this list features internationally acclaimed creators as well as emerging local artists. These are the shows you should not miss out on.
• They Are Saying That I Is Not Really Me at Koresh 14 Gallery
Socially-oriented art gallery Koresh 14, a ground-level hub showing established and young Israeli artists, is hosting a solo exhibition by veteran multidisciplinary artist Roee Rosen. Rosen is returning to the Holy City for a retrospective of his oeuvres for the first time since he sparked controversy with his unforgettable solo show at the Israel Museum in 1997, Live and Die as Eva Braun. On view in this current exhibition are various drawings and paintings that Rosen has created of himself throughout his career, all of which are self-portraits of the artist that grapple with questions of representation, identity, gender, memory and self-definition.
The exhibition’s title, They Are Saying that I Is Not Really Me, references the lyrics of a song from the 1966 film musical The Flying Matchmaker, also known as Two Kuny Lemel. It is at once a nod to Rosen’s video work – I Was Called Kuny Lemel – which is on display at the exhibition, and a reference to an integral aspect of Rosen’s practice: the invention of various characters. These entities’ worlds, tragedies and humor are at once extensions of the artist himself and their own autonomous beings, blurring the boundaries between the fictional, the autobiographical, the hyper-real and the surreal.
Curators: Vered Haddad and Dveer Shaked.
The exhibition’s opening event will take place on Wednesday, February 24, between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m at 14 Koresh Street, Jerusalem. It closes on March 31. To coordinate a visit beyond opening hours, text the gallery at (054) 559-3714.
• Calder: Great Yellow Sun at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art
While most reviews have debated, mocked or extolled the exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art dedicated to the enormous sculptures of contemporary US artist Jeff Koons, we are actually looking forward to seeing the work of a different American creator. One of the 20th century’s most important artists, the pioneering sculptor Alexander Calder (1898-1976) is receiving a grand honor at the museum in the form of an immense exhibition that highlights his creations from over five decades of an influential career.
Calder: Great Yellow Sun is showcasing the master’s early pencil drawings alongside his iconic sculptures (Calder was the inventor of the mobiles, a significant development in the history of modern art and a term that refers to his kinetic sculptures, powered by air currents and motors).
One of his lesser-known bodies of work, which this writer is especially excited to behold, is Calder’s gouache paintings. Created with vivid, warm colors and imbued with nature-inspired symbols, these creations are the pulsing heart of this show.
Curators: Ronili Lustig-Steinmetz and Shahar Molcho.
The exhibition opens on February 23 and will close on August 15, 2021, at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, 27 Sderot Shaul Ha’Melech, Tel Aviv. Tickets can be purchased in advance via the museum’s website at tamuseum.org.il/en.
• Since Then, Measurements Have Begun at the Bat Yam Museum of Art
In his first solo exhibition in a decade, Eliyahu Fatal – an established Israeli artist and the former director of the Art Department at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design – is dealing with questions of identity through 30 portraits that reflect his everyday work environment: the studio, its neighboring streets and the nearby market. As the name of the exhibition suggests, Fatal is harnessing the museum space and the various mediums he works in to measure time, distance, places, depths, statuses, values and personal as well as national memories.
His work spills outside the museum, where the pathway and the building itself have been encircled and marked by green wallpaper. Packing boxes, ready-mades and still photographs are some of the materials Fatal has worked with or manifested, turning the structure itself (including not just its walls but its floors and exterior as well) into a playground where his aesthetic and personal investigation plays out.
Curator: Hila Cohen-Schneiderman.
The exhibition reopens on February 25 and will close on April 3, 2021, at the Bat Yam Museum of Art, 6 Struma Street, Bat Yam. Opening hours: Tue., Thur. 4 p.m.-8 p.m.; Fri., Sat. 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
• Night. Sight at the Tel Aviv Artists’ House
Artist Noa Rabiner, a painter and illustrator who has worked with various local publications, has been documenting her dreams since childhood. In her new exhibition, Night. Sight, she delves into the depths of the personal subconscious and the collective Israeli one, showing paintings that are based on journals in which she depicted her nocturnal visions.
Rabiner describes her manner of creation as similar to the way dreams are formed: via actions of erasure, duplication and mixture. Over the years and during the process of work ahead of this exhibition, she has held so-called dream meetings with various participants, whom she had asked to share with her the contents of their dreams so she could learn about the unaware facets of society. Inspired by these meetings, she incorporated fragments of others’ dreams and fantasies into her canvases, including biblical characters and anonymous symbols.
Curator: Ori Drumer.
The exhibition opened on February 11 and will close on March 4, 2021, at the Tel Aviv Artists’ House, 9 Elkharizi Street, Tel Aviv. Opening hours: Mon.-Thur. 10 a.m.-1 p.m., 5 p.m.-7 p.m.; Fri. 10 a.m-1 p.m.; Sat. 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
• Jetesais (Iknowyou) at Mishkan Museum of Art, Ein Harod
Gregory Abou, French-born and Israel-based artistic director and artist, is presenting at the Mishkan Museum of Art a solo exhibition that is dedicated to filmed performance pieces he created over the past five years. The works, which he captured in far-flung artist residencies throughout the world – from Norway to Japan to the Middle East – star Abou as the director, actor and cameraman. The sites Abou chooses to film relate to holy places: ancient churches, places of Torah study and groves affiliated with Shinto, the religion that originated in Japan. Operating in them, his actions relinquish these spaces of their sacrificial importance, turning them into arenas of reflection where body art is practiced and produced.
The creations on view in Jetesais (Iknowyou) embody the artist’s fascination with the connection between faith, mankind, sustainability and the environment – a notion highlighted by his attempts to blend himself into, or leave a mark on, the surroundings portrayed in the videos. The exhibition is a result of Abou’s visit to the museum during Israel’s first lockdown, where he was invited to perform within the shuttered exhibition space. That performance is now among the works presented in the show, his second solo exhibition to date.
Curators: Dr. Batsheva Goldman-Ida and Yaniv Shapira.
The exhibition opens on February 23 and closes on July 15, 2021, at the Mishkan Museum of Art, Ein Harod. For opening hours and tickets, visit the museum’s website at: museumeinharod.org.il/en.
• Sling Stone Gemstone at HaAmakim Art Gallery
Mark Yashaev is one of Israel’s most intriguing emerging artists. I have been following his work with fascination since I first encountered it at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, where I reviewed for the Post his solo exhibition in 2016. In Only from this Suddenness On, Yashaev photographed his photo installations, creating hybrid photographic works that offered a sanguine but beautiful commentary on the relationship between the body and the space it surrounds.
In his new solo show, Sling Stone Gemstone, Yashaev is returning to his familiar techniques to manifest pictorial compositions that ask questions about the role of useless archaeological findings. The photographs and installation he is presenting at the exhibition were inspired by his wanderings throughout the kibbutz, where he encountered a languishing archaeological museum hall and a watering hole that existed on the grounds since the Hellenistic period. Photographing these abandoned sites in the kibbutz and reshaping them in his studio, he crafted images that deal with the tension between nostalgia and the struggle over the here and now.
Curator: Ruth Oppenheim.
The exhibition opens on March 6 and closes on May 22, 2021, at the HaAmakim Art Gallery, Kibbutz Sha’ar HaAmakim. Opening hours: Sat. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. You can coordinate a visit by texting or calling (052) 608-8717.