Color and food for thought

In case you missed the landmark date, Ashdod arose on the seafront sands six decades ago.

Painter Dvora Ortas was drawn to high-seas marauders of old (photo credit: DAN LEV)
Painter Dvora Ortas was drawn to high-seas marauders of old
(photo credit: DAN LEV)
You can’t possibly have a birthday bash without some enticing victuals, right? The cultural powers that be in Ashdod have certainly ingested that perception in the most appealing and tastefully presented manner at the aptly named “Cooking Art in Ashdod” exhibition, currently up and running at the city’s Arie Klang House.
In case you missed the landmark date, Ashdod arose on the seafront sands six decades ago. The local municipality has been busy marking its threescore anniversary with various events, including the aforementioned aesthetically alluring display of food-inspired works, which – pardon the pun – feed off a range of local sensibilities.
This is a delectable offering all around, which starts with the ambiance of the host venue. Located on a hillock overlooking the sea, the building, which opened last year, is designed to admit an abundance of natural light. That is generally a good starting point for any repository of art for public consumption, and it helps to show off the 90 works in the display to excellent effect.
The works are arranged in militaryesque formations of threes, and across a 10-part spectrum of color bases. The color coding scheme also helps to lead the visitor through the display in a comfortable and communicative manner.
Each triad incorporates “an inspiration photograph” which provided the platform for the other two works in each threesome, which generally comprise a painting and another camera shot. The two photographs, however, are of very different ilks and intent. The bedrock snapshot depicts some location in or around Ashdod, and may have been computer- manipulated. The other photo is a fetching documentation of a culinary creation fueled by the root item in the trio, taken by “food photographer, amateur cook and food lover” – as the catalogue has it – Dan Lev, who co-curated “Cooking Art in Ashdod” together with Ilit Engel.
The color categorization works well and helps to convey some of the facets of the everyday local dynamics and the history of the city, and the interplay between them.
Lev and Engel are not only the driving forces behind “Cooking Art in Ashdod,” they are also the brains and talent behind the international Colorfood project. The latter is a vehicle for presenting contemporary cuisine in an original way, and that certainly comes across in the exhibition.
“[Ashdod Municipal Cultural Company director of culture and art] Neomi Adar Hoffman asked us to put on an exhibition in the spirit of Colorfood,” Lev explains. “We decided to incorporate artists, chefs and photographers in Ashdod.”
“That was due to the fact that Ashdod was celebrating its 60th birthday, so all the participants are from Ashdod,” adds Engel.
Food always goes down well in this part of the world, in more sense than one, and as the photographs feature different local spots, “Cooking Art in Ashdod” also helps to introduce out-of-towners to the host city. I certainly came away from the show feeling far more familiar with Ashdod, and with the range of cultures and ethnic groups there.
“If that’s what you sensed, then we hit the nail right on the head,” says Lev.
There is a wonderful sense of natural illumination right across the exhibition, which comes both from the venue and from the works themselves.
“We took all the photographs right there, in the building,” says Lev. “It is a fantastic building.”
The source material certainly inspired the photographer to an impressive level of quality representation.
“Food is something that lives and breathes,” he says. “The aim is make the food look tasty, even if you can’t taste it or smell it.”
Lev managed that with aplomb.