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Moshe El-Natan

Moshe El-Natan (Khudadad) was born in Persia in 1904. In his youth he studied in Bombay with a street portrait painter, an Indian by the name of Diharam. He journeyed through India, Thailand, Burma, Cambodia and elsewhere. In India he worked as an athletics instructor, interspersed by periods of seclusion with an Indian monk. Later he moved to Iraq, where he married, and in 1937 he immigrated to Israel. In 1940, shortly after the outbreak of World War II, he enlisted to the British Royal Air Force, from which he was discharged in 1946 with a serious handicap to his eyesight. During the siege of Jerusalem he opened a falafel stall called the "King of Falafel" (the first of its kind in Israel) on King George Street, near Eden Cinema. Here, he exhibited his paintings, which he signed with his name and the motto "King of Falafel". He was ever more drawn to fulfill his artistic ambitions (see the large formats of a significant part of his works), later opening a gallery on Hanevi'im Street, though he sold very few paintings due to the high prices he asked. El-Natan closely followed developments in the art world, some of which he incorporated in his works. He often visited the Bezalel Museum (Yona Fisher in a 2015 interview with Carmela Teichman attested: "I began working in April 1954 at the reproductions archive. Let's try to imagine the Bezalel Museum of those years: on Sabbath perhaps a dozen people would come to the museum, one of them was Moshe El-Natan, the King of Falafel, who came every Sabbath, carrying the prayer siddur, with his young son"). Attracted to tradition and esotericism, he joined the Freemasons (their symbols, a drawing compass in the middle, appear in a number of his paintings). In 1969 he passed away in Jerusalem. 

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