Knowing how to ‘Walk the Talk'

Artist Ika Abravanel presents a new exhibition in Old Jaffa.

IKA ABRAVANEL, Rough Seas 2017 (photo credit: Courtesy)
IKA ABRAVANEL, Rough Seas 2017
(photo credit: Courtesy)
‘Do not be afraid to walk slowly. Be afraid to stand still” is a Japanese proverb that artist Ika Abravanel has taken to heart in every chapter of his life. Born and raised in Jerusalem, Abravanel’s artistic talents were nurtured at a very young age by artist Yvette Schupak, a former student of Marc Chagall. For many years, art took a backseat for Abravanel as he achieved esteemed careers in the IDF as well as in the business sector. Now, as he steps into “the third chapter” of his life, Abravanel has returned to his lifelong passion of art and is presenting his first solo exhibition, entitled ‘Walk the Talk’ at the Farkash Gallery in the Old City of Jaffa.
The Jerusalem Post sat down with Abravanel to discuss his influential background and how business has affected his art.
Before moving into the artistic world, what was your professional background?
I was in the IDF for 24 years. The last position I had was the Head of the Planning Division. I finished my military service as a brigadier general and I decided that I wanted to step into the business sector. I started as the CEO of the Israeli Chamber of Commerce and then I was the CEO of a start-up dealing with MVNO virtual operators. I then joined Pelephone, which at that time was in real trouble and was then promoted to deputy CEO of Bezeq. Later on, I became head of HR in Teva and after that, Chief Integration Officer for several years.
You talk about moving into the third chapter of your life. Can you elaborate?
After having a fantastic career at Teva, I decided that I would like to have a third chapter in my life, so I left Teva and since then have done many things. First is philanthropy, because I want to give back after I have gotten so much. So, I am very active in four or five nonprofit associations like Alut and Krembo Wings. Second, I started my PhD in integration at Haifa University. I also teach there as part of the Executive MBA. The third part is business, not so much to make money, but to keep myself in the field. So I joined EMDA; I am a partner there.
When did you get back into painting?
I started to paint really seriously around five years ago. In the last nine months, I have presented in Torino and last week in Vienna and now it is going to be my first solo exhibition in Israel. I am painting almost every day. Either I open the day in the studio or finish the day in the studio – with the assistance of Aharon Farkash, who is pushing me to work very hard and promote myself professionally.
Were you always interested in art?
I started at a very early age. I was lucky to be a friend of a guy whose mother was a famous painter at the time; she was a student of Marc Chagall. Her name was Yvette Schupak; she passed away 20 years ago. [Schupak] started to teach me when I was five or six years old, and I joined Bezalel – not as a student – but there were some groups in Jerusalem and then I joined the army and I stopped. Here and there I painted, but it was not so serious.
After being a professional in the business world for so many years, how would you compare that to now being an artist?
There is a difference with the business sector and to be an artist. In the business sector, teamwork is the key and you need to be on time and reach your targets on time. With art, you don’t have the limitation of time; the only limitation is the way that you examine your work. In business, you are not alone – you have to convince a group of people. In the studio I am alone, and the only one that can criticize me is myself.
Comparing the two, they are quite different, but there is also something similar. If you want to reach successful work you have to be very accurate with what you are doing and you have to work in a clean way.
How did you come up with the name of the exhibition ‘Walk the Talk’?
It was Aharon Farkash’s idea.
‘Walk the Talk’ is a term I used in business, as often you have a project or an idea that you plan and at the end of the day it stays on the paper or you do something. We used this terminology many times in Teva or Bezeq. So here it comes, I start to do it.
The exhibition is made up of 21 paintings of abstract landscapes. Can you explain your process?
The foundation is usually a panoramic view photo. After drawing the outline, I leave the photo and progress with the painting, with no specific direction, and then the colors and the black acrylic accents, and the minimal resolutions are completely random and are made in real time. My fascination with details represents who I am and therefore when the work is completely abstract, I have a clear desirability to formulate the movement and frame it so that it will come to an accurate and clear expression, clear and distinct, almost like in photography.
Where do you think your artistic style is headed? Do you want to continue with landscapes?
I don’t want to decide, this is a flow and I let myself surrender, I don’t have to be in control. All my life I was in control, in the IDF and the business sector, and now I prefer not be in control. It is not so easy, because I am used to being in control and planning. Discipline is very important, I want to get better and develop.
“Walk the Talk” is on show at The Farkash Gallery through December 6.
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