Fifty fascinating facets

Matan Sacofsky’s artwork brings Jerusalem to life on canvas and video

 (photo credit: MATAN SACOFSKY)
(photo credit: MATAN SACOFSKY)

Jerusalem is a very inspiring city, especially for artists. For them, the urban  scenes are things of beauty, a true inspiration for painters.

One of these artists is 23-year-old Matan Sacofsky. A short while ago, he was spending most of his day servicing the tank that served as his home during the three years of his military service. The day he completed his national service, he exchanged his military uniform for civilian clothing and the implements of war for something totally different – the tools of an artist. Now he gets up early every morning with the tools of his trade strapped to his back – canvas, brushes, palettes, and easel – and walks the streets of Jerusalem looking for the perfect place to paint. He combs the streets of the capital because he has an artistic project called 50 Shades of Gold. It will represent Jerusalem through the media of paint and video.

“My goal is to depict Jerusalem from 50 different vantage points. I want to highlight the wonder, the diversity, and the complexity of this amazing ancient/modern city,” Sacofsky explains.

He paints rapidly, as if for three years of national service his creative energy were pent up, and all the restrained artistry came gushing forth. In less than two hours, he can produce a painting that conveys a powerful artistic message that resonates with anyone who has viewed the picturesque streets and alleyways of the Israeli capital.

In his artistic style there is a marked emphasis on the changing effects of light. One of the reasons Sacofsky works so quickly is that he wants to capture the nuances of that special light before its effect changes with the movement of the sun.

(photo credit: Matan Sacofsky )(photo credit: Matan Sacofsky )

“An artist needs to leave behind his normal perception of objects and view them in terms of shades, color and tonality, without any preconceived ideas of what something is supposed to look like,” he says. 

Sacofsky’s paintings, with their muted colors and subtle shades, emanate a subdued, quiet feeling. In the short videos that accompany each painting, one gets a sense of the sounds, the hustle and bustle, the vibrancy of city life, as well as the artist’s interaction with its people.

The video clips show Sacofsky, in his jeans and baseball cap, painting while chatting, eating, laughing and getting advice from the curious onlookers in areas such as Mea She’arim, the Arab shuk or the Mahaneh Yehuda market.

“There is an excitement in meeting and engaging with the Jerusalem crowd, which must be the most diverse of anywhere. All kinds of people mix and merge, and their stories – real or imagined – fill my head and my art,” he says.

Sacofsky is currently enrolled in the Sam Spiegel Film School in Jerusalem. He began painting as a child and continued through high school, where he also studied film and produced his own videos.

“The idea of 50 Shades of Gold came as a brainstorm. I realized that with that artistic project, I could give scope to my talents as both a painter and video producer,” he recounts.

50 Shades of Gold is an endeavor that Sacofsky has pursued with the single-mindedness of an artist and the light-hearted, adventurous spirit of a young man.

“I see this whole thing as a learning experience and a personal journey, and I’m going to follow it wherever it takes me,” he declares.

Judging by the reaction the project has been receiving on social media, 50 Shades of Gold is quickly gaining momentum and attracting enthusiastic fans. A recent item about the project on Israeli TV channel KAN 11 garnered his site more than 200,000 views, and Sacofsky has also already sold a number of his paintings.


Links to the video blog and gallery: