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Controversy over PM painting in Ofra
Talya Halkin
02/26/2006
Aharon Odem's disengagement-inspired painting shows Sharon as a balloon pricked by pins.
A painting depicting Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as an inflated balloon pricked by pins adorned the walls of an art gallery in Ofra on the eve of his 78th birthday. It was on display at an exhibition about the aftermath of the eviction of settlers from Gush Katif that opened Saturday night. The painting, by nine-year-old Ofra resident Aharon Odem, was a lightning rod for criticism by, among others, a prominent artist identified with religious Zionism, Avner Bar-Hama, who called for its immediate removal, and by Sharon advisor Lior Horev. The gallery's curator, Ruth Pasder, Sunday afternoon told The Jerusalem Post the image would be removed. Aharon Odem is the son of Judaica designer and artist Haim Odem, whose works were also on display alongside the works of six other artists, all residents of Ofra, a settlement northeast of Ramallah. The child's painting was inscribed with the words: "Sharon is an inflated balloon. It's enough to prick him with a pin and he will become what happens to an inflated balloon pricked with a pin." Aharon Odem, according to his parents, painted this and nine other paintings last year, during the four-month period prior to the Gaza evacuation. During that time, the Odem family had moved to Netzarim in a show of support. "The exhibition gives expression to the difficult and post-traumatic experiences of the entire nation," Pasder told the Post. "One of the artists here in Ofra came up with the idea for the exhibition. Meanwhile, the events at Amona happened, and I felt it was time to ask artists here to show their work." Pasder said Aharon Odem's paintings were the work of "an innocent child." Nevertheless, she respected the feelings of those who were hurt by them and agreed to remove them. Tikva Odem, Aharon's mother, told the Post her son was dismayed that his painting had hurt anyone's feelings.
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