4 Israelies from Paris (09/09/2004 - 14/11/2004)
Mordecai Moreh,Moreno Pincas,Nili Pincas & Richard Bilan.
The present exhibition at the Engel Gallery features four Israeli artists active in Paris, one of the most important centers of the art world. They traveled to Paris to explore other worlds, yet remain Israeli. The “big city” is a place that facilitates a more holistic perspective, providing a good setting for a serious, deep examination of the act of artistic creation and an opportunity for critique and exhibitions on a scale so very different from the norms of our tiny country.
The four artists’ artistic development took place in Israel, but at a certain stage each one made the choice to travel to Paris and continue to develop there. The current exhibit enables the Israeli public to see their recent works, a renewed exposure to let us renew our acquaintance with them and keep in touch, which is so important to each of the artists.
As early as the 1950s and early 60s, Mordecai Moreh felt that he had accomplished all he could in terms of exhibiting in Israeli galleries and museums. Working in the mediums of etching, drawing and painting, Moreh’s deep longing to delve into art in all its variations took him to Paris, New York, Boston, Amsterdam and Venice. He was warmly welcomed, and books have been written about his life and work.
The present exhibition shows two major works “Peace Parade” a large-scale triptych, portrays historical events of the Jewish people and recent events in Israel. It shows Islamic terrorism in Israel and around the world, with the Israeli reaction to this painful state of affairs. Along with this work is a more introspective “Self-Portrait.” The artist holds a palette, while glancing at the “Peace Parade". The juxtaposition in the exhibit of the two works is a statement by the artist of “Yes, I have the right to object to ‘the situation’ – even if I live abroad.”
Moreno Pincas was considered a precocious artistic genius, and won First Prize in the Biennale for Young Artists, and a study grant to attend the Beaux Arts, Paris. After completing his studies, the leading gallery in Paris for modern art of the time, Galerie Katia Granoff, took him in, followed by exhibits in Milan, Taiwan, the Mus?e Nationale France, galleries in New York and dozens more.
Moreno is currently a member of important art juries in France, such as the “Salon d’Automne”. Moreno is among those working hard to revive this important exhibition, which was the first venue for showing the Impressionists and the Expressionists at the turn of the last century. Moreno invites artists from around the world to exhibit in the Salon, including Israeli artists.
Moreno’s works on exhibit at the Engel Gallery were made over the past year: circus scenes, images from the artist’s productive imagination, acrobats, animal tamers, horseback riders and flame-swallowers, imagery drawn from a colorful, rich and sometimes even bloody world. His works are not well known in this country, but his imagination takes him to Israel, and in the middle of the masses of the crowd scenes we can glimpse at Israeli flags in the hands of the onlookers, a symbol of the artist’s longing for his beloved country, although he physically lives abroad.
Nili Pincas makes unique clay pieces. She has exhibited widely in museums and galleries in Europe and the USA, including the Pompidou Center in Paris, and Mus?e de Dole.
Nili Pincas’s world of images is made up of figures from legends and tales that she makes up, making the viewer smile in surprise. In the hair salon scene, a man is seated on the barber chair while another man's head is rolling around on the floor. Is it the barber’s head or the previous customer who had too close a shave? In another piece, “The Bed” we see two people in bed with a duck in between. Is the duck a symbol of the lover or are the soft feathers a symbol of the husband’s great love? The “Equestrienne” is a woman riding a man, leaving the viewer to wonder whether this is a depiction of a sado-masochistic relationship or a portrayal of burning hatred bringing the man to slaughter.
Richard Bilan immigrated to Israel from Poland. Alone in the world at age 21, he had to cope with absorption into his new country. After completing his military service, Bilan studied at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. He is a sensitive artist, changing from one extreme to another, drawing, painting and etching. Richard Bilan has exhibited widely, and won a study grant from the French government for art studies, thus finding himself between Israel and Paris. He works in a small apartment, painting oils of evens in his own life, ranging from very personal paintings “straight from the gut,” to depicting the pains of creation of a lad roaming the city streets to creating illustrations.
In the current exhibition, Bilan suddenly replaces his pain with a celebration of forms, figures and colors marching along in parades of flags and acrobats in a kind of reincarnation of his early woodcuts in color. We can discern blue sea and sky in his works, and identify Neve Zedek and Netanya. Suddenly, Israeli color and hue are apparent, as is the longing for the local light, for the sun and compositional balance.
This quartet of artists proudly bear witness to their Israeli origins, no matter where they live or exhibit their work. Thus, here in Israel as well, they must raise high the flag of hope, declaring “Here we stand.” Indeed, they came here to their homeland to exhibit their artworks and demonstrate their presence. It would be a pity if Israel is the only country where their names and work are not known.