Spotlighting creators from the former Soviet Union

The concepts behind the exhibitions are reflective of the broad synergy of Tel Aviv.

“Sound and Movement,” "Night and Day" exhibitions (photo credit: KASKA SIKORA)
“Sound and Movement,” "Night and Day" exhibitions
(photo credit: KASKA SIKORA)
 For aspiring artists in Israel’s rich cultural fabric, making it big is no easy feat. For artists from the former Soviet Union who have immigrated to Israel, establishing themselves in the art scene, let alone the social scene, can be particularly cumbersome.
In order to address the issue, a Jaffa-based art house has teamed up with the Immigration and Absorption Ministry to organize a collective exhibition for a select group of artists originally from the former Soviet states looking to integrate into Tel Aviv’s vibrant cultural environment.
On April 7, the the Mansohn House Art Studio’s annual Spring Art Festival opened at the Cinema Hotel at central Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Square.
The event consists of a series of two exhibitions; the first, “Sound and Movement,” is running until May 3; the second, “Night and Day,” will run from May 5 to May 22. Each exhibition features some 30 to 35 artists who now live in Israel. All works in the display are for sale.
The concepts behind the exhibitions are reflective of the broad synergy of Tel Aviv, explains Moscow-born painter Sasha Ganeli, who, along with photographer Uriel Messa, serve respectively as the initiative’s curator and director. The two met years ago while collaborating on a project and have remained close acquaintances ever since.
“We do this to put a little light in our lives,” says Ganeli, adding that the objective of the showcase is to create a gathering place and network for the predominantly Russian-speaking artists from the likes of Poland, Georgia, Ukraine and, of course, Russia.
Ganeli spearheaded the initiative in 2009, coinciding with the Tel Aviv centennial. Since then, the showcase has taken place every year at various locations around the city.
In order to expand their ever-growing arts community, the organizers select the artists featured in the show from a list of olim from the post-Soviet states provided by the Ministry for Immigration and Absorption.
“It’s a real pleasure to do this project, it’s not for money like in the West; it’s from inside,” asserts Messa, adding that those involved in the festival constitute an “aristocracy of Russian artists.” He adds that he personally enjoys working with Russians as a colony of artists.
For this select group of talented artists, Messa believes that this year’s venue at the upscale Cinema Hotel, converted from the old Esther Cinema, is the best so far.
“This is the best venue because the stairwell is reminiscent of the Guggenheim,” he says in reference to the iconic New York museum famous for its winding, cylindrical design.
For the exhibitions, the hotel’s elegant multi-floor stairwell are lined with the approximately 50 art works selected for the festival. Throughout the duration of the showcase, the pieces featured in the installment replace the hotel’s usual collection of vintage photographs of the city of Tel Aviv.
As the name of the exhibition alludes, the works represent dynamic motions and movements found in people and nature and evoke a certain sense of sound or energy with their composition and colors. The physical act of climbing the staircase to view the exhibition also relates to the concept of fluidity and action that the installment emphasizes.
The placement of the works is largely dictated by the available space, and while there is no strict order of the arrangement, the organizers sought to present the pieces by size, subject, color or style in an aesthetically pleasing display.
The subjects of the works of art ranged across a broad spectrum, including themes such as the human body and condition, landscapes, Judaic scenes and abstract compilations. The media used to create each piece also vary in a disjointed array. Photography, digital media, oil painting, ink and watercolor are all found among the works in the display.
The exhibition begins with a painting of a woman by Levan Stepanyan, originally from Georgia, using elements of expressionism and cubism. A few floors up the marble staircase, the exhibition ends with a vibrantly alluring digital photography segment by Alexander Pilko, Max Shamota and George Stolyarov.
Making use of the physical distance, the collection of art works is vast and varied. The works, like the people who created them, are unique and eclectic, yet they all reveal great talent and beauty.
According to the organizers of the exhibition, both “Sound and Movement” and “Night and Day” portray life and the different ways in which the artists interpret existence. The works are featured in the two expositions according to content.
The coming “Night and Day” installment will highlight another set of some 30 experienced artists in a similar fashion.
Free entrance to the exhibit during festival dates. ‘Sound and Movement’ runs from April 7 to May 3; ‘Night and Day’ runs from May 5 to 22.