One of my preferred ways to spend the beginning of a weekend is to visit the art galleries in Tel Aviv. This is what Liliana and me did last Friday, when three interesting exhibitions brought us to the art galleries located in the block of the Ben Yehuda street between the Ben Gurion boulevard and the Gordon street.

the Gerstein Gallery

The Gerstein Gallery at 99, Ben Yehuda hosts first of all permanently the colorful painted metal sculptures of artist David Gerstein.

inside the Gerstein Gallery

The underground level space hosts temporary exhibitions and last Friday I had a last opportunity to see the works of Romanian-born painter Ioan Iacob. Actually the exhibition had closed two days before and I was concerned to miss it, but calling the gallery I had learned the paintings are still there to be seen by visitors, which proved to be true.

Blue Buckets

I confess to have been slightly disappointed by the works in this exhibition. It may be about the selection of the works, it may be about the stage of the development of the artist born in 1954 who lives in Dusseldorf, Germany since 1975. On a small table I could see some other works of him, like an illustrated book of Petre Ispirescu’s fairy tale ‘Tinerete fara Batranete’ which seemed to me more expressive, with a feeling of expressionist angoisse.

Mount Carmel

Many works of Iacob seem to pass a feeling of uneasiness. It is the case of the wild and sick looking dogs represented a few paintings, of the dead nature diptych on a black background (work I liked most in the Tel Aviv exhibition), or the landscapes of mount Carmel which Iacob painted repeatedly probably following a study journey to Israel a few years ago.

the Gordon Gallery

Two houses away we can find the Gordon Gallery. Founded in 1966, the gallery is one of the oldest in Tel Aviv, considered today as an important institution in the development of the Israeli contemporary art.

inside the Gordon Gallery

Among the house artists of the gallery Ukraine-born Joseph Zaritsky was maybe the most famous, and it’s no surprise that the current exhibition is dedicated to him.

'every inch must be a painting'

‘Every inch (or centimeter) must be a painting’ Zaritsky used to say, and the upper floor of the exhibition in the gallery illustrates this concept with details of his works photographed and enlarged to the dimensions of big paintings to show the richness and power of each piece of his paintings. I was only partially convinced.

from the rooftops of Tel Aviv

I liked more the beautiful selection of Zaritsky’s original watercolors exposed at the underground level, some of the best in the rich collection of works of the painters in the possession of the gallery. The many landscapes painted by Zaritsky from the roof of his house in Tel Aviv, representing a city that had not yet developed on the vertical, neither had expanded to swallow and domesticate all the neighboring nature are among the best works of his I know.

the Minotaure Gallery

Crossing the street to 100, Ben Yehuda street we can find one of my preferred galleries, and art places in Tel Aviv.

inside the Minotaure Gallery

The Minotaure Gallery is specialized in Jewish art and artists from the first half of the 20th century. It describes itself on the Web site as a sibling of the gallery with the same name in Paris. This is the place where I dream to see one day an exhibition of the Romanian avant-garde as the Web site talks in the ‘About Us’ page about displaying ‘East European artworks by painters from Ukraine, Russia, Hungary, Romania, and Poland’.

Adolf Hoffmeister exhibition at Minotaure

The current exhibition is dedicated to portraits and collages of the Czech-born painter Adolf Hoffmeister, who was once characterized by Louis Aragon as le plus parisien des Pragois et le plus pragois des Parisiens.

Luis Bunuel

Many of the drawings in the exhibition are ink portraits painted starting from the 20s until the 70s by a painter who frequented the most various art circles in Paris and Europe. Many of his portraits are remarkable, as they catch not only the character of the artist but also of his work. For example a portrait of Giacometti has stylization of the works of the sculptor, Vaclav Havel is caught in the key year 1968 with a confident stare in the future that will come decades later, Ray Bradbury’s portrait has the mechanic look of the future in his works, and Luis Bunuel looks like a character of his latest films about the bourgeoisie.

Marc Chagall

Marc Chagall’s portrait bridges between the portraits and collages in the exhibition, with some of the animal icons of his works translated in the language of Hoffmeister.

Kafka and the media

The cycle of works that represent Kafka bring the Czech genius in the context of the realities of the second half of the 20th century, as a sign of contemporaneity and actuality of the author of ‘The Trial’ and of ‘The Castle’.