10 April - 10 July 2014 at Engel Gallery, Tel Aviv
Engel Gallery Tel Aviv is happy to invite you to a group exhibition New Spring in which we observe the concept of Renewal in the different aspects of the Israeli Art.
Featuring: Jonathan Ofek, Moshe Elnatan, Ovadia Alkara, Mordecai Ardon, Richard Bilan, Osnat Ben Dov, Yoav Ben Dov, Yosel Bergner, Nahum Gutman, Miri Davidovitz, Leah HaYerushalmith, Jack Jano, Joseph Zaritsky, Anna Ticho, Marcel Janco, Toby Cohen, Malachi, Lea Nikel, Yochanan Simon, Reuven Rubin, Erez Rota Sisoka and Avner Sher.
Avner Sher, Born 1951, lives and works in Israel
As a child I was never allowed to go on school trips. Being an only child to survivors of the holocaust, my parents were so protective, fears that something would happen to their son. Like others who had survived the holocaust, my father and mother never told me about what they had gone through so I always had a strong feeling that my home is full of secrets. Often I would listen through the keyhole to their conversations and would hear about the long walk they were forced to make barefoot in the snow, or about the threatening dogs set upon them by the Germans. Only recently had I started to think that perhaps I am painting my father’s anguished face, and that the reoccurring images are a sublimation of the repetitiveness of the holocaust images that I had been carrying around in my mind from an early age.
I have always been interested in a relationship between construction and deconstruction. In my early works I painted colorful compositions in oil on canvas, in the cubistic spirit. I later began exploring the other side of creation and started to destruct the surface. I am working on cork boards, using a wood scorching pen, screwdrivers and hammers, I scratch, tear and burn the surface by splashing wine, ketchup, mud or iodine on it. The work is done without thought, an intuitive process, instinctual, which embodies an attempt to release control. Only at the end does my unconscious content emerge, and I often contemplate its meaning only after reading the interpretations given by art critics.
Each work induces a journey beginning with intuitive unruly desecration, somehow exposing the subconscious and indelible marks of second generation Holocaust survivors. This force turns towards revealing the beauty within the ugliness and abomination, creating an emotion full of anticipation for a better world. Hinting at man's strength, belief and will to create wholeness, a normal and full life, my works are an expression of hope in the face of chaos.
Miri Davidovitz was born in Europe and grew up in Tel-Aviv. She studied in Jerusalem and London, and then came back to open her studio in Tel- aviv. The cultural diversity of these places is expressed in her work. She is known for mixing traditions with cutting edge trends. She started her career with various magazines, with an emphasis on fashion and portraiture and then carried on to advertising. In the 20+ years since she started she has worked with most of the leading names in Israeli fashion and advertising.
Her clients include Ahava, Tabor Winery ,Comme il faut ,Elopak , Gottex ,Yes to Carrots ,Maoz ,Onot , Esprit De Vacance Shufersal, Haaretz , Iconix , and many more. Her work is described as Fantasy meets hard core reality. She lives now in Tel- Aviv with her husband two daughters and cat , traveling whenever possible . She has recently exhibited at the Artists House in Tel Aviv, and her work has been displayed in numerous exhibitions in the Israel museum in Jerusalem and the Tel - Aviv museum of Art.
Yoav Ben Dov. Born in the artists' village of Ein Hod. In his youth he was an assistant of Marcel Janco, Avraham Bazak and Uri Lifshietz. Ben Dov is a multi- disciplinary artist; he uses all kinds of artistic medias such as painting, sculpture, Video-art and installations, all creating a primordial world that has a deep connection to the earth, to nature and to Israeli symbols. Ben Dov's images stir up memories of ancient folktales and primeval landscapes and make them an integral part of our contemporary environs. Ben Dov stirs feelings of goodness, beauty, and deep roots, constituents that encourage a more optimistic outlook toward the future.
Jack Jano. Born in Fez, Morocco, immigrated to Israel at early age and settled in Shlomi. A graduate of the Bezalel Academy. In his works, Jano creates models of tombs and synagogues made of rusty and disintegrating iron, worn-out books, melted wax, yahrzeit candles, and other materials. All these are fused into a sculptural design that revives the various elements and gives them both a religious and artistic validity.
The pictures of the righteous persons and the portraits made by Jano are a kind of an experiment in practical magic, while raising questions regarding identity and connection with popular ritual tradition. In the works inspired by a trip to Morocco, the artist's land of birth, popular folklore is reflected, too, through a post-orientalistic view, free of any exotics.
His 'journey' works – wheelbarrows in which books or ritual articles are stacked, as well as his works based oh wheelchairs – do not express a journey derived from a deep nostalgia towards the Diasporaand in the footsteps of the 'generation of the wilderness', but rather an internal journey of self-exploration. The arched structures created by Jano, a combination of models of tombs of righteous Jewish persons and of Arab sheikhs, undermine the dichotomy between 'Arab' and 'Jewish' in order to make the relationship between them visible, a relationship that the Israeli society t keeps strictly oppressed and excluded.
Thus, Jano's work draws upon the world of Jewish tradition, and in his objects, the border between an aesthetic object and a magical one is sometimes blurred. 'My studio is like a synagogue. There I pray to God to help me find my truth, so I can become one with what I do' testifies the artist.
Thus, Jano's deployment of artifacts from the religious world is not an act of defamiliarization but an act of hybridization, pointing to the difficulty of placing traditionalism within a definite sociological framework. This difficulty emerges from the refusal of Jews from Arab countries to be classified by the European categories of 'religious' and 'secular'. Against this background, Jano's work succeeds in capturing complex hybridization between religion and secularity, and not just replacing one of them with the other. In this, actually, lies its true power. - David Sperber, Jack Jano: Complex Hybridization between Religion and Secularity.
Shmuel Engel, also known by his artistic name, Malachi, Born in Mezocast, Hungary. Immigrated to Israel in 1946 and settled in Jerusalem. Six years after the move to Jerusalem he opened one of the first galleries for avant-garde painting in Jerusalem. Over the years he opened more galleries in Tel Aviv, the USA and in Canada. For over 50 years Malachi has been working passionately, in solitude and in near-underground secrecy, as if external to the local scene. Being an observant Jew, who is primarily influenced by music and sound. that became the key themes of his work over the last five decades. Even today, in his advanced age, he continues to draw with passion. And in the galleries he owns in Israel and abroad, he continues to exhibit the works of painters for whom art is their life and their faith.
Toby Cohen. Born 1979 in London. A graduate of UWE in Bristol.
In his panoramic photographs, as well as his staged photography, Cohen captures the profound and unique ancient history of mankind in Israel, perusing the Maimonides saying that “enlightenment and divine experience can come through the rational mind or through experiencing Nature”.
"The first time I met Toby Cohen, several years ago, he still used to present himself as a proud hunter-photographer of the old school, named by the media as paparazzi. However, his obsessive curiosity along with the search for his Jewish identity set him on an intriguing route: he has been taken by the landscapes of Israel, yet at the same time attracted to the erotic magic born out of the combination of youth, uniforms and potency.
His close-ups of soldiers and female IDF combat unit fighters are also an attempt to define himself in relation to them. As a field photographer he is drawn into the photogenic and dramatic subjects, through which he feels as well as moves the beholder. For a better understanding of his impression of Maurycy Gottlieb's painting "Jews praying on Yom Kippur" he reconstructs the scene and resets it, and in a last-minute decision sets himself as the tragic artist. From there the road to the characters hovering above, representing the efforts to reach higher spheres, is short, and the combination of Jewish mysticism and the technology of digital photography – intriguing".
Mordecai Ardon (1896-1992) is considered by many to be Israel's greatest painter. He studied at the Bauhaus (1921-25) under Klee, Kandinsky, Feininger and Itten. The influence of the Bauhaus and especially of Paul Klee on his artistic development was profound and lasted a life time. The other great source of inspiration were the Old Masters, especially Rembrandt, and El Greco. After graduating from the Bauhaus he studied the painting techniques of the Old Masters under Max Doerner, at the Munich Academy (1926). These dual, seemingly contradicting elements, forged the character of his painting throughout the 70 years of his artistic career. Ardon's unique position in Modern Art stems from the union of these two opposites in his paintings: A Modern, Expressionist, and mainly Abstract, style, with the classical painting technique of the Old Masters. The depth and richness of his colours owe their quality to this technique. He liberated them from the figurative context of the Old Masters, and turned them into tools for the creation of his original contribution to Modern Art of the 20th Century.
Ardon believed in pure art devoid of any political or social message. He believed that a painting should be appreciated and judged solely by its inherent artistic elements, color, composition and their interplay. He rejected literary, symbolic or, indeed, any other additional meaning attributed to a work of art. Yet, although he tried, he could not always overcome his urge to create an artistic expression of his horror of war and injustice. This urge culminated in the eight monumental triptychs which he created between 1955 and 1988, but is also found in many other paintings, such as Khirbet Khize and Fatal Eclipse. In a letter to Willem Sandberg, the legendary director of the Stedelijk Museum of Amsterdam (and later, the first director of the Israel Museum), he acknowledges this inner conflict, which he likens to the historic conflict between Athens and Jerusalem.
Marcel Janco’s life history can be divided into two main chapters: 46 years in Europe and 43 in Israel. Born in Bucharest, Romania in 1895, his artistic talent became apparent early on. From his teacher, Josef Isser, he learned the foundations of classical art that would continue to influence his work throughout his life. A sociable young man, Janco surrounded himself with poets and writers his own age. Together with several of his high school classmates, he started Simbolul and Chemarea, literary journals in which his drawings were first published.
In 1915, at the age of 20, Janco went to Zurich to study architecture at the Federal Institute of Technology. He thus spent World War I as a student far from home in a neutral country, safe from the horrors of war. In this tranquil atmosphere, he joined a group of young artists performing at the Cabaret Voltaire. The founders of the avant-garde Dada movement, they challenged what they considered the fallacious values of bourgeois society and art. The shows they put on at the cabaret were utterly different from anything the burghers of Zurich were used to. Janco played an active role in all the group’s activities, designing the masks they wore in their performances and participating in the shows, which invariably drew incensed and hostile reactions from the audience. In addition, the Dadaists mounted exhibitions, issued manifestos, and published a journal. During this period, Janco also belonged to Das Neue Leben (New Life), a group that organized artistic and intellectual activities and was involved in the establishment of the Association of Radical Artists.
In 1922, after a brief stay in Paris, Janco returned to Romania. His paintings were now mostly of local landscapes, peasants, and interiors, classical subjects which he depicted in a modernist style. His work displayed cubist and constructivist elements along with dark coloration, particularly browns and grays. He was also active in the avant-garde movement in Bucharest, serving as one of the founders and editors of Contimporanul, a journal published from 1922-1932, to which he contributed not only art work, but articles as well. And he was involved with several other groups of Romanian artists who were similarly striving to promote the principles of modernism.
In Romania, Janco opened an architects office with his brother Jules, which was responsible for the design of over forty private homes and public buildings. In the early stages of his architectural career, his work showed the strong influence of his teacher, the Swiss architect Karl Moser. Although his designs are generally described as examples of the International Style, Janco’s unique signature is clear in all of them. They are marked by clean elegant lines, without any ornamental additions, and an intriguing juxtaposition of shapes – a round window here, a triangle there. The buildings often convey the sense that the viewer is looking at one of Janco’s abstract paintings, with the disparate forms in the composition coming together to create a harmonious whole.
Despite his professional success in the country of his birth, in 1940, at the start of World War II, Janco decided to move his family to Palestine in the face of growing anti-Semitism, the persecution of Romania’s Jews, and the Bucharest pogrom. When he arrived in Palestine he was already a noted artist, a modernist deeply enmeshed in the European avant-garde. Once here, both his style of painting and his architectural work underwent a striking change, with the Mediterranean light finding its way into his palette. He found a job in the Research and Survey Department in the Planning Division of the Prime Minister’s Office, where he was responsible for designating and planning national parks. He formed a strong emotional bond with his new homeland, crossing it from east to west and north to south. Wherever he went, he carried with him a sketchbook in which he recorded what he saw, and then reproduced the scenes in vivid colors on his return to the studio. His paintings from this period depict the landscapes and people of the country, as well as its heroic struggle for independence.
In 1948, a group of local artists joined forces to form a movement they called New Horizons, marking a turning point in modern art in Israel. Janco was one of the founding fathers of the movement, alongside the prominent artists Yehezkel Streichman and Joseph Zaritsky, and designed the poster for its first exhibition, which bore a donkey with its head shaped like a palette. His work, with its combination of figurative aspects and constructivist elements, had a significant impact on the character and identity of contemporary Israeli art. Janco brought to the local art scene his rich experience, the principles of European modernism prominent in his art, and the spirit of Dada that animated it.
In 1953, Janco made a visit to the deserted Arab village of Ein Hod on the slopes of Mt. Carmel. Struck by the beauty of the landscape and the vernacular architecture, he vowed to find a way to reclaim the site. Advertising in the organs of the artists’ and sculptors’ associations in Haifa, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem, he invited artists to make their home there. He himself joined the first group of settlers in Ein Hod. Janco was also a teacher, mentoring generations of artists, beginning soon after his arrival in Israel when he joined The Studia, an art school run by Streichman and Avigdor Stematsky into which he introduced the spirit of the avant-garde. Later he taught in a variety of institutions, as well as in courses conducted in Ein Hod. Many of his former students attest to the unique teaching methods he employed.
The last twenty years of Janco’s life were particularly productive in terms of both his artistic work and his public endeavors. He actively promoted the village of Ein Hod, as well as writing articles about a range of subjects that drew his interest. In 1967 he received the Israel Prize in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the country. His oils from this period evidence a near total return to the abstract and geometric shapes.
Marcel Janco passed away on April 21, 1984. He left behind a prodigious estate consisting not only of oil paintings and drawings on a wide array of themes, but also writings, sketches, and architectural plans, all part of a resplendent legacy that will occupy researchers for many years to come.
Sunday - Thursday from 10am to 8pm
Friday from 10am to 2pm
- Malachi, VioletsToby
- Cohen, Enlightment
- Jack Jano, Love
- Yoav Ben Dov, Flower in Stone
- Marcel Janco, Hookah Smokers
- Avner Sher, Obelisk Dever