Liliana and me spent the Saturday morning at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, which at this time of the year is very much worth a visit gathering several very interesting exhibitions.

source http://www.tamuseum.com/exhibition-images/11762

David LaChapelle is quite well known to the Israeli audiences a documentary on Channel 8 recently presented some of his works. The fashion photographer, film director, and most than everything master provocateur comes to Israel with a very consistent collection of works from the last few years and a few works created especially for this show titled in a sober manner Postmodern Pop Photography. Some of the recurrent themes of LaChapelle are present here – the dialog with the commercial and consumerist world where he made himself a name and started his career, the relation between the famous (Michael Jackson, Courtney Love), reality and myth, the decomposition and amplification of the symbols of values of the society (in the dollars and shekels works), Jesus and his relation to the modern world, and the apocalyptic landscapes of a world after catastrophe be it the devastating storms he knew as a kid in North Carolina, or the deluge. The careful screening of his works which sometimes may be as complicated or more complex than a full feature film are presented in documentaries screened in a side room. Some of the works in the show can be seen at http://www.tamuseum.com/exhibition-images/11762

source http://www.tamuseum.com/exhibition-images/11639

The works in Lena Liv’s Cathedrals for the Masses exhibition use the same media – photography – and also deal with some kind of myths, of a different type however. The Leningrad-born photographer went back to the capital of her country of origin to catch in a series of big size triptychs the stations in the metro in Moscow, arguably the most beautiful in the world. Built during the Stalinist era, the Moscow metro stations can be looked at as symbols of another type of worshiping of the temporary new gods invented by the Soviet regime. I’ve never been to Moscow or Russia, and the feeling when seeing these photos is ambiguous. Hard to detach them from the story and history, yet they do have a beauty of themselves and a quality which seems to improve in time. The cathedral metaphor does not seem completely out of context. The sentiments that they inspire are strong, and I did not have to go farther then one of the museum keepers whom I asked for directions and who told me a few words about the exhibitions in a tone that I cannot describe other that piousness. Watch also http://www.tamuseum.com/exhibition-images/11639

source http://www.tamuseum.com/exhibition-images/11867

I have discovered Avigdor Arikha a few years ago when I visited the exhibition he opened at the British Museum where he had donated one hundred of his figurative works. If his life and work will ever be described in an opera it will be composed by one tragic prologue and two acts, quite different in style one from the other. Arikha was born in Bucovina, and as a child he was deported to Transnistria, as were most of the Jews in Bucovina. He watched his father die, and was saved by the Red Cross who had discovered the drawings he made in the deportation. Arrived in Israel he studied art, traveled and settled in Paris, and worked in two radically different periods and style – one abstract and one figurative. The current exhibition is composed of a series of self-portraits and illustrations he made to a book of Agnon in the 50s. While the portraits are interesting as gathered in a multifaceted comment about his self, physical evolution and decay of flesh while keeping the spirit, is the the series of illustrations that I liked more, as they spread for a period of a few years of artistic research and evolution, when Arikha was refining his abstract style and vision. Some examples from the exhibition can be seen at http://www.tamuseum.com/exhibition-images/11867

source http://www.tamuseum.com/exhibition-images/11472

source http://www.tamuseum.com/exhibition-images/11472

Two artists belonging to the same generation but coming from different backgrounds are gathered in a an interesting dialog in the exhibition Meeting Points: Ronit Agassi, Gary Goldstein. Ronit is born in a kibbutz in Israel, Gary in Tennessee. Ronit works with materials that generate a monochromatic effect asking for attention and effort to decipher shapes and messages. Gary starts from graphical techniques and pop art effects from comics. Both led the viewer to a feeling of uneasiness, as the usage of familiar cultural symbols are in the works of both artists slightly out of context, as none of them seems to be very sure or vary happy in expressing his identity, though they do use the ideograms of the worlds where they were born and raised. More examples at http://www.tamuseum.com/exhibition-images/11472

source http://www.tamuseum.com/exhibition-images/11707

Larry Abramson: Paintings 1975-2010 is a comprehensive retrospective of the Israeli artist born in South Africa in 1954. Works from different periods of his life and creation witness and exploring and investigating spirit who integrates well minimalistic techniques of abstract art and melds part of them into a strong and explicit politic message. Recurring symbols like the crescent and direct messages like in the group of works dedicated to the erased identity of a Palestinian village are some of the elements that stay in the memory of the viewer after visiting the exhibition. See some of the works at http://www.tamuseum.com/exhibition-images/11707

source http://www.tamuseum.com/exhibition-images/11659

The last exhibition we visited yesterday was Yadid Rubin: Plowed color. Here is a completely different type of artist. Born in 1938 Rubin lives and works in Kibutz Givat Haim Yichud. Starting from the landscape that surrounds him, Rubin avoids programatically any ideology in his work, being much more interested in color, texture, materials the work of art is composed from, and the effects he can create by playing and combining them. The effect is fabulous, I have seldom seen in the works of other Israeli painters such an interest and even love to work with color, from the fauvist nuances of his debuts to the maxi-pointillist effects of his latest works. The Chelouch gallery contributed to the exhibition, and a few more pieces can be admired at http://www.tamuseum.com/exhibition-images/11659