Naftali Bezem (1924-2018) Born in Essen, Germany. studied at a Catholic Art School and at Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem with Mordecai Ardon.
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, Bezem, aged fourteen, was sent by his parents to Israel. They themselves died in Auschwitz. This personal history largely shaped Bezem’s artistic style and work.
Bezem is best known for its symbolic rendering of the holocaust and the return to the land of Israel. He is an artist who constantly responds to his surroundings and has developed thematically and stylistically as those 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, 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’s art remains a reflection, not only of his own life, but that of many Israelis. He was conscious of this in his social realist days when he painted workers and “kibbutzniks”, the ma’abarah (absorption camps) and the war of independence, and equally when he dealt with the holocaust and immigration.
1943–46 Bezalel Academy of Art, Jerusalem with Mordecai Ardon
1949–51 Center for Religious Arts, Paris, France
1946–47 New Bezalel School for Arts and Crafts, Jersuaelm
1947 Refugee camp, Cyprus
Awards And Prizes
1957 Dizengoff Prize for Painting and Sculpture, Municipality of Tel Aviv-Jaffa
1959 Prize, Painters and Sculptors Exhibition, Graduates of Youth Aliyah
1975 First Prize, The “Sea” Exhibition, Haifa Municipality