The Story of Pesach - the double entendre exhibition in September

It was, true to its name, originally scheduled to open for Passover 2020, to mark a year since the passing of the esteemed Israeli artist Pesach Slabosky, who died on the eve of the holiday.

ASHTRAY BY Drora Domini (photo credit: Courtesy)
ASHTRAY BY Drora Domini
(photo credit: Courtesy)
"The Story of Pesach” is the inaugural exhibit of the Barbur Gallery in the posh Mamilla neighborhood of Jerusalem.
It was, true to its name, originally scheduled to open for Passover 2020, to mark a year since the passing of the esteemed Israeli artist Pesach Slabosky, who died on the eve of the holiday he felt so connected to. Following the corona crisis, the exhibition was postponed. Despite the postponement, a multi-participant virtual event was held in his memory at the time. Hundreds of people partook in the Zoom event, emphasizing the void that Slabosky left in his community upon his departure.
Now visitors are invited to see for themselves the works inspired by Slabosky, in this special showcase done in collaboration with Koresh 14, another gallery located nearby, to allow users to effortlessly enjoy both parts of the exhibit, which is spread across both spaces. The showcase features work from around 100 artists from a range of disciplines, including painting, sculpture, installation, performance and poetry.
Each artist was asked by co-curators Oree Holban and Nomi Tannhauser, both artists themselves, to submit a piece of art that symbolizes their connection with the beloved artist along with an explanation to describe that special connection and how Slabosky inspired them. Nomi Bruckmann, Slabosky’s widow and also an artist herself, helped put together the exhibit. Everything is for sale, although you won’t feel pressured if all you want to do is ogle – both galleries are nonprofit and artist-run.
‘THANK GOD Pesach Arrived’ by Peter J. Maltz. (Courtesy)‘THANK GOD Pesach Arrived’ by Peter J. Maltz. (Courtesy)
“As artists, we are individualistic and concentrated on ourselves, but there is a strong and vibrant community here that cares about and needs each other and that’s the feeling of the show,” says Tannhauser. “People like Pesach were and are really essential in our small, tight art community. This exhibit’s title alludes to the holiday of Passover, but also means that we are, through the exhibit, telling the story of Pesach Slabosky. This is our own little Haggadah.”
Through works of artists, friends, colleagues, former students, family members and art lovers, “The Story of Pesach” tells the tale of the Jerusalemite artist who, unlike most artists, wasn’t outspokenly secular. In fact, he often used words from the Haggadah, namely “dayenu,” which we all know from the upbeat Passover song. It loosely translates to “it would have been enough.”
Born in the United States in 1947, Slabosky immigrated to Israel five decades ago and became a respected figure in the Israeli art scene. Tannhauser notes that his wit and sharpness of mind were expressed in numerous ways: in his work; in the shows he curated and exhibited; in his various writings both in Studio art magazine; in his book The Reconditioned Inspiration; in his musical performances as a member of “Same World Trio;” and in his art teaching at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design.
“Due to his many contributions, he occupied a central place in the life and work of countless artists from a spectrum of disciplines and practices,” says Tannhauser.
Some standout works you’ll see in the new exhibit include Alex Goldberg’s Pesach and his Dog. Goldberg is a Jerusalem-based artist and he painted Pesach, whom he met in his neighborhood while walking his dog.
‘PESACH AND His Dog’ by Alex Goldberg. (Shlomo Serry)‘PESACH AND His Dog’ by Alex Goldberg. (Shlomo Serry)
Drora Domini’s Ashtray is another standout. The work was made especially for the show.
“I think it is a sort of tribute to his sculptural objects where he would put glass objects in a kiln and see what happens,” says Tannhauser.
Elad Rosen’s Oven Disasters is another sculptural work inspired by Slabosky’s experiments.
“He also put various other objects to melt in the kiln and waited to see what would happen to them,” notes Tannhauser.
Peter J. Maltz’s Thank God Pesach Arrived is another work worth highlighting.
“This was part of a project of Peter’s seven years ago where he would paint a piece of his life every day,” says Tannhauser. “Just before Pesach of that year he chose to paint a tribute to Pesach Slabosky, who was his friend and teacher, by copying Pesach’s work. He added the sentence ‘Thank God Pesach Arrived,’ with the double meaning it bears.”
Those familiar with the local art scene will know what an important milestone this exhibit marks, not only because it honors a central figure that inspired so many, but because it’s a celebration of the triumph of the Barbur Gallery. Barbur was originally, for over a decade, located in Jerusalem’s Nahlaot neighborhood. The municipality reportedly asked the gallery to move after it hosted events by “Breaking the Silence,” a controversial organization of army veterans who speak about the human rights violations they witnessed. The situation made its way through the court system with the central question being whether as a gallery receiving municipal support, they could host pro-Palestinian programming and political events.
In the end, Barbur was closed down and has now – despite the perils of coronavirus – triumphantly returned.
‘PESACH’ BY Nomi Bruckmann, Slabosky’s widow, oil on sanded canvas.   ‘PESACH’ BY Nomi Bruckmann, Slabosky’s widow, oil on sanded canvas.
“The Story of Pesach” runs through October 1 and is accompanied by a catalog of works and texts by the exhibiting artists. The exhibition is supported by the Culture and Sport Ministry, Department of Museums and Plastic Art, and The Jerusalem Foundation. Locations, both in Jerusalem: Barbur Gallery, 9 Shlomo Hamelech St.; Koresh 14, 14 Koresh St.