Born in Essen, Germany. studied at Bezalel Academy with Mordecai Ardon and in Art Catholic School.
Bezem was born in Essen, the youngest of three sons of an orthodox Jewish family who had immigrated there from Poland. His father worked in the annex of the main synagogue frequented by polish immigrants. Just before the outbreak of world war two, Naftali, aged fourteen, was sent by his parents to Israel. They themselves died in Auschwitz camps. This personal history largely shaped Bezem's artistic style and work.
Bezem is best known for his symbolic rendering of the holocaust and the return to the land of Israel. He is an artist who continually reacts to his times and has developed thematically and stylistically as these times and his resultant message changed.
Bezem formulated his own allegorical form system, emotionally nourished by the inner Jewish religious experience and his visible tokens. His paintings tend to the monumental and decorative, with the result that Bezem has become one of the most popular muralist in Israel.
Bezem viewed art as an expression of the soul, it’s heritage, and it’s truth.
He won several prestigious prizes, and has been shown internationally in group and solo exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale and the São Paulo Biennale.
Bezem art remains a reflection not only of his own life, but of that of many Israelis. He was conscious of this in his social realist days when he painted workers and kibbutzniks, the ma'abarah and the war of independence, and equally so in his symbolist period, when he dealt with the holocaust and immigration.
Ziva Amishai- Maisles, The Unknown Bezem ,Naftalie Bezem, Sifriat Poalim, 1986. Naftali Bezem- Rope Ladder 1996-1999, The Open Museum, Industrial Parks Tefen and Omer
Original art works by Naftali Bezem can be found at the Engel Galleries Israeli art collection.
Engel Gallery - 100 Ben Yehuda St., Tel-Aviv
Tel. 03-5225637, Fax. 03-5226145
Engel Gallery - 13 Shlomzion Hamalka St., Jerusalem