As Israel’s leading, not to say only, art fair is celebrating its tenth anniversary, it is encouraging to say we have some great art here! Fresh Paint is a small art fair, comparing to international ones, but it does a good job in introducing local contemporary art to its audience. The fair has a special projects section that I will review here. Part 2 will deal with the exhibiting galleries as well as the as the Artists Greenhouse. You can read of the fair's different features in my previous post.
The one project that moved me almost to tears was Batia Shani’s Installation named A Prison of a Secret. The project addresses the gruesome reality of violence against women and the result of broken homes for their children. What strike me most was the central piece which consists of punching bags and women’s clothes on hangers creating a ghostly atmosphere. Each of the garments is embroidered with images and words: hands strangling instead of a shirt’s collar, names and ages of women murdered by their partners, domestic abuse statistics etc. Talking to the artist, she explained her personal engagement with the subject, having worked with some families, trying to save them from a fatal end.
The most talked about project was Michal Hardoof Raz’s multi-media called First Class. Hardoof Raz studied Fine Art abroad and returning to Israel she found it very difficult to enter the scene and be recognized as an artist. For this work she invited the most powerful women in the local industry – museum directors, curators and critics to a photo-therapeutic session. She filmed them interviewing, giving their best piece of advice for emerging artists, and then photographed them as airline stewardesses for a personal portrait. One of the points the artist is making is that in the Israeli scene most of the figures responsible for the artistic agenda are women, but they consistently promote male artists.
The ceramicist Orna Tamir-Schestowitz produced 70 granular clay bowls incorporating photographic images of the bounty of the Israeli land for Seeds of Heritage. These are portraits of herbs, fruit and vegetables cultivated from heirloom seeds naturally evolved through generations in the land. The artist “planted” them beautifully in the bowls as a dual meaning of return to the earth and an offering from the land, resonating ancient customs of the area.
To celebrate the first decade of the Artists Greenhouse, each year allowing 50 emerging Israeli artists to showcase their work and gain extensive exposure, this year the fair’s curators returned to artists from previous years. In a show called No Other Place they deal with the path traveled through those years, broadening it to the concept of lines – walking the line versus outside of the line, discussing borders and their transgression and the mere creative processes of making an artwork.The work of photography artist Angelica Sher captured me the most. In dealing with her daughter enlisting the Israeli Defense Force, she placed her portrait as a center piece of an icon, with good and evil/conformist and rebel on each side, and a hybrid of lamb and dog, hinting to the sacrifice of the lamb in biblical times.
Alma Itzhaky is painting her everyday life in Tel-Aviv. Here she imagines a domestic scene in the kitchen with her partner and their unborn child.
Featured in the design section of the fair, Glass X Studio presents the works of hot glass artists Maayan Feigin, Boris Shpeizman, Olya Brener, Noam Dover, Lena Dubinsky and Dylen Brams. Knowing some of them personally I can say these people are artists. Glass work is pigeon-holed for years as craft and design, and in some cases, it is. However, practicing glassblowing myself, I see glass as a wonderful medium for an artist to work with and convey his or her ideas. You can see Feigin’s exhibition at the Mizgaga museum for two more weeks, followed by Brener’s one. Shpeizman is an internationally acclaimed artist, exhibiting all over Europe.
Last but not least is the fair’s traditional community project The Secret Postcard. It offers more than 1,000 original postcard-size artworks by different artists, some are renowned and some are emerging. Sold anonymously and in a uniform price, the buyer finds out their identity only after the purchase. Proceeds are donated to Tel-Aviv Museum’s youth education program. I bought three. Can't wait framing them and finding them a nice spot on the wall.