Israel Arts Part II

By | December 22, 2021

The use of poor materials, fragmentation and processuality also guide the path of the sculptors. N. Tevet (b. 1946) has shown a strong attention to space since 1974 when building Corner with three chairs connected by wooden planks. The subsequent path, as documented by the comprehensive exhibition opened in March 1991 in the Tel Aviv museum, records, together with a greater spatial involvement, a progressive compositional complication. First wooden slats, chairs and tables as modular units then, up to today’s introduction of found objects, structure precarious balances that proliferate from the floor or collapse from the wall, in an original synthesis of constructivist, Dadaist and minimalist thought. Even the contemporary M. Gitlin, who lives between New York and Israel, after the first careful tests on the distilled version of abstract expressionism by M. Rothko and B. Newman, embraces the minimalist option. He starts from an elementary wall form from which he tears pieces that are arranged in the space near or far from the mother form; the black or white pictorial coating favors those borders which are unraveled as traces of the executive process. Y. Dorchin, on the other hand, a guest in the Israeli pavilion at the 1990 Venice Biennale, chooses iron as the basic material, in the shape of the found objects which he then assembles into sculptures with a once again minimalist rigor.¬†For Israel 2006, please check

Therefore, if minimalism seems to be a recurring poetic in the sculpture of the seventies, it is necessary to probe its particular Israeli declination. A fundamentally agricultural society, founded and raised on the pioneering ideals of collective and manual labor, on the revolutionary story of the kibbutzim that almost all artists shared, cannot recognize itself in the cold, industrial and geometric forms of American minimalism; he opts instead for wood, warmer and more flexible, of which he respects the original structure, showing off the traces of craftsmanship.

A similar distance is found in the pictorial field. Witness the work of M. Kupferman, born in 1926 in Poland and a Holocaust survivor. Obsessively recurring in his paintings is the motif of the grid, not aseptic and assertive as that of the American A. Martin, but tortured by the painting that covers it, erases it, stripping it away, making shreds emerge from purple-gray monochrome backgrounds. It is precisely in the dialectic between rigor and anxiety for freedom, between confidentiality and generous involvement that the American critic R. Pincus Witten reads the originality of the Jewish abstraction in which Kupferman enters as a milestone. A restless and unstable equilibrium, that of the Polish artist, not shared for example. by M. Gershuni who, a contemporary of Lavie,of photos and writings strongly marked by the theme of here and there. An example is the one in which the father appears twice, first while reading, and after the emigration of 1929, working in the fields. Having abandoned that distance, the recent works are configured instead as “ paradigms of an existence on the edge of hell ” where the color, blood red, clumps or stretches to draw swastikas, stars, to write biblical verses, songs, hymns. An increasingly isolated case, an increasingly shared path.

Precisely because of the indispensability of the form-content binomial, Israeli art is not impermeable to the worsening of the political and social situation on the threshold of the Eighties. The Yom Kippur war first, that of Lebanon in 1982, but above all the unresolved problem of the territories and the Palestinian question at the center of the peace conference following the Gulf War leave deep traces in the work of the artists, who swell the ranks of pacifism, which contest the government’s choices, which promote collective exhibitions of Arab, Israeli and Palestinian artists. If the contents and the forms that express them change, the former in a political direction and the latter expressionist, it remains, in the generation of artists who made their debut at the turn of the seventies, the discontinuous and fragmentary character of the compositions that often leave the wall to reach out into space. Like those of T. Getter, T. Geva, J. Levin and M. Na’aman, first conceptual, teeming with fast, lost, chromatically screaming images today. For everyone, the case of Getter who creates indecipherable today is valid puzzles and that only in 1977 he composed The ideal city and Tel Hai yard, in which the classic and spacious image of the ideal city of Urbino and the simple profile of an Israeli house-type are didactically superimposed. If Geva draws sketchy portraits of Arabs with their village names in Hebrew, soldiers and bombers stand out with hyper-realistic precision from the lattices or profile of the state of Israel by the young D. Reeb. While J. Mishori’s aggressive portraits are echoed by computerized war images by D. Frumer.

Israel Arts Part II