It Must Be Love - A new exhibition created by artists for their children

Any idea that this is a lightweight venture designed to titillate children and their parents is immediately stopped in its tracks.

Amit Shemma (photo credit: MARGARITA PERLIN)
Amit Shemma
(photo credit: MARGARITA PERLIN)
Art is not just a cerebral exercise. Yes, there have been all sorts of movements and schools of thought over the years, particularly in the last century or so, including those that reference our powers of thought to a greater extent. But, at the end of the day, it is the artist’s emotions that naturally go into the corporeal, or digital, end product, alongside the prerequisite technical expertise.
When it comes to feelings there is an abundance of emotive baggage on display in the It Must Be Love exhibition, curated by Amit Shemma and supported by Naomi and David Kolitz, which opened at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art last Friday. The second part of the show moniker gives the affectionate vibe game away: Gifts from Artists to their Children. All the works on the walls of the show area were created by some artist parent or other for their offspring.
Any idea that this is a lightweight venture designed to titillate children and their parents and/or grandparents as an entertaining escape from the summer heat and the ongoing pandemic shenanigans, is immediately stopped in its tracks as you encounter a simply delightful series of illustrated letters crafted by Yochanan Simon. Berlin-born Simon was one of the country’s leading proponents of artistic expression through the 1950s and 1960s and he developed a habit of sending letters to his daughters and friends with plenty of self-produced pictorial content.
The exhibit in question comprises a bunch of epistles Simon sent to his daughters while he was on extensive travels around the world. And while, presumably, it was not easy for the girls to be without their parents for so long, albeit with a supportive kibbutz social network around them, seeing their dad’s experiences come to life in his drawings must have been a joy for them and, at least to a degree, may have bridged the physical and temporal gap between them.
They are eye-catching and alluring, and there is much more where that came from dotted around the show. The artist roster makes for pretty impressive perusal too. There are A-listers in there from across several generations. Consider the likes of Arie Aroch one of the iconic figures of Israeli art who died in 1974 at the age of 65, now 74-year-old Yair Garbuz and 63-year-old Yitzhak Golombek, all highly respected award-winning senior contributors to the evolution of Israeli art. Golombek’s contemporary Roee Rosen also has a handful of fetching works at the museum. Rosen spreads his gifts across a wide range of disciplines, including writing and filmmaking, and the visual and textual come into adorable interplay, for example, in his pictorial take of the biblical tale of Jonah and the Whale created in a comic-style painting that he gave to his son as a belated birthday present.
In the case of the Garbuz slot there is a captivating reciprocal vibe, with one work by the acclaimed artist and another by his grandson Shaul when the latter was just 12 years old. Garbuz Sr. depicts a gathering following Shaul’s circumcision ceremony, and there is a good deal of emotion in the figures’ faces. The junior contribution to the cross-generational “diptych” tends towards the somewhat satirical side and was created as a birthday gift for granddad. Shaul, who clearly inherited some artistic genes, shows Yair in a characteristic and comical pose. The title of the painting Chances are Grandfather Will Pass Here Soon references Garbuz Sr.’s 2014 autobiography, Chances Are a Train Will Pass Here Soon.
And all the exhibits are the real deal. “Many of these were taken off the artist’s children’s bedroom walls,” Shemma notes. “All the works here are the genuine article – created by the artists for their own children.”
As such, the exhibits offer a fascinating insight into not only how the artists do their thing and what they were looking to convey; you get the sense that this is creation in its purest egoless form. These are paintings, drawings and various 3D objects that were not made for public consumption. They were made for the artist’s own intimate world, as an unabashed expression of their love for their own offspring. It is as simple, and as enchanting, as that.
It Must Be Love closes on April 3, 2021. For more information: