Past Exhibition

01.07.2022 - 01.09.2022

From time immemorial, paintings of flowers have served as a theme with which artists thoroughly enjoy indulging in; flowers as a theme contrasted with color and light or as an inanimate object in a wide-open space all encompassing. 

When Bezalel Ben Uri constructed the Tabernacle, he worked on the seven-armed candelabrum opulent with flowers, symbolizing the earthly versus the spiritual gold, containing the infinite light. 

For many Israeli artists, who for the most part arrived from countries with cold climates, the light of the Land of Israel was a source of difficulty and in the theme of flowers they found a corrective and balancing element between light and color.  Flowers served as the bridge between the familiar colorfulness and the bright and blinding light that was new to these artists.  Examples of this may be evidenced in the painting by Reuben Rubin ” Still-Life with Flowers (Anemones & Wheat Bouquet)”, in the work by Arie Aroch ” Interior with a Chair and a Table” and in the watercolor paintings by Anna Ticho and Yosef Zaritsky.

Later, when the artistic style developed into dismantling of forms – flower painting was influenced by this trend, too.  Zvi Meirovich, for instance, contends with Cubist artwork through ” Red Flowers & An Old Glassware Vessel”, the flowers being transformed into an integral part of the background, dismantled, and assembled in a restructured form. 

Yossel Bergner, representing Jewish surrealist art, employs the imagery of the lonely boy as representing the post-Holocaust scattered Jew.  When he paints flowers they symbolize the new Jew, and the flower blossoming and blooming in rich colorfulness. The flowers symbolize a new, beautiful, and utopian world.

The outsider artists, whose source for their potent artwork derives from colorfulness and tales, painted flowers as the mainstay of their artwork in bold and sensuous colors, as may be observed in the painting of Moshe El Natan (“The Jerusalem King of Falafel”) “Blue Vase”.  Here, the vase is positioned on a flat surface, perhaps symbolizing Mt. Sinai, while the vase containing the flowers resembles colorful Tablets of stone (containing the Ten Commandments) unfolding before us.

A different approach may be evidenced among artists who painted according to the Socialist surrealist style; among these artists, Naftali Bezem, for example, paints an “Alter” in which we see wild flora, seemingly cacti in bloom, spurts from beyond a mysterious purple alter. Said flora is floating through the fog like background on a small boat, a symbol employed many times in Bezem’s paintings which along the rest of the symbolic images of the artwork make a fully dreamlike interpretation of Aliyah, with the blooming cacti symbolizing the returning people of Israel.

Among contemporary artists, flowers become an object. Yoav Ben Dov’s “Flower in Stone” imagines a future in which fossils of flowers are all that remain, acting as a warning sign and advocating to environmentalism conservation.

Leonid Balaklav studies the light through the gentle petals of flowers, using watercolors in-order to simulate the fluidity of the light. Balaklav practiced and struggled with the Israeli harsh light since making Aliyah in the late 80’s from the USSR, and with time we grew to love and excel in it. This process can be seen as we feature 2 works in which Balaklav studies and paints the same still life of flowers on a table.

Many contemporary artists use flower fields as the object of the work rather than a single flower or a bouquet. Toby Cohen photographs a jumping figure – Gedalia – all around him are representations of spring with cattle curiously onlooking on the eccentric man, and beneath him a colorful green field specked with flowers like stars in the night’s sky. The jumping Gedalia is clad in a multicolored robe imitating the nature that surrounds him, and so Cohen captures the way the environment and its people affect each other, as he researches this weird new land he discovers.

The subject of Flowers is complex in its simplicity as can be seen by the multitude of approaches by various artists.

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