Fresh Paint – Artists and Galleries
After introducing the Fresh Paint art fair and giving you a taste of the different projects, now is the turn for artists and galleries. Unlike many other art fairs, Fresh Paint directors allocated much space for independent artists. One of the best known ones is Martha Rieger, a ceramics artist working in collaboration with Chinese master craftsmen. Two years ago she presented at Fresh Paint 8 her Egg series. This time the project is called Aqua as it derives its inspiration from small water drops, taking the shape of a sphere, just before they burst. Rieger’s version is white and blue large size ceramics spheres, with patterns influenced by the Japanese ancient art of Shiburi. Once asked about the fine line between art and design, the artist said: if you can sit on it it’s design. On my works you are not supposed to sit. The booth’s presentation is lovely, but the most captivating image is a desert installation Rieger was commissioned for.
Another artist that gained a higher profile these past few years is Itay Zalait. Zalait gained public attention when erecting a full size golden statue of Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Prime Minister, at the main square of Tel-Aviv, naming it King Bibi. The statue was torn down the same day, but was the talk of the day, which was probably Zalait’s intent from the get-go. Here Zalait presents The Ego Show, not deserting the neo-kitsch provocation. Aside small versions of King Bibi you may find here mixed media high quality works in vibrant colors, with penis as a decorative form.
Every year Fresh Paint curators choose 50 emerging Israeli artists to present at the fair in what’s called The Artists Greenhouse. Each artist gets at least two walls to exhibit his or her art. Every 2-3 artists presenting in a space have a designated person that is able to talk about each artist’s work, trajectory, unique practices etc. I believe this is highly important and serves the young artists well. Sotheby’s choice Under The Hammer from the Artists Greenhouse is Shir Moran’s Girlfriend Experience. Moran paints with markers and nail polish over cow skin. Her multi patterned bold colored work is eye catching, and at first glace the scene portrayed is unclear. The artist is playing on the fine line between paid for sexual services and monogamist accepted behaviors, leaving us, the viewers to draw our own conclusion. The animal skin also alludes to the way in some cases society treats women as tradable objects. As Sotheby’s choice, the artwork will be sold in New York at the Sotheby’s annual Israeli Art sale. All expenses will be covered by Sotheby’s while all proceeds will go to the artist.
I found the work of Stella Lamikhov very compelling. Lamikhov employs traditional painting practices, including grinding her own pigments and producing her own paint. Her realistic style and brownish pallet allude to Dutch old masters such as Rembrandt. Occasionally she may add a contemporary element, usually in gold, making it clear that we are at the 21st century.
Anat Keinan is working with woodcuts, an artistic form that is no longer prevailing today, and there are few artists that practice it on such a big scale as she does. With numerous layers of different shades Keinan is creating intriguing complicated scenes, with the wood pattern adding another dimension. Unlike other forms of print, woodcuts cannot produce high-volume series, and therefore the artist produces only 1-5 copies of each work.
Adva Kremer is a Shenkar Design graduate with a passion for art and apparently is tech savvy. Kremer’s project started with looking at the different pixilation of pictures weaved with a Jacquard weaver, which turns out to be one of the first computerized machines. To make things more interesting Kremer configured an algorithm that will demonstrate the frequency an artwork is searched for on the internet – with low resolution in times the image is of low demand and increasing resolution as the number of searches increase. The artworks bear the date in which the searches were made, usually with certain underlying significance. The artist is working only with images that are free of copyright issues, which I most appreciate.
Photographer Guy Cohen is presenting staged images of couples in nature. As part of an agenda this series shows only same sex couples. These large size works are delicate and immersive. The one that touched me the most was of two men in the middle of the river, one carrying the other, holding him in a pieta-like position while staring straight at us. The scenery is so Israeli while the referencing to Christian baptizing is very much apparent.
There were only a few galleries presenting in the fair. One of the gallerists mentioned that most of his clientele is not the kind that will buy art on such an event. Moreover, galleries’ price tags are much higher than most of the art presented at Fresh Paint, be it that they are selling the works of established and well-recognized artists. Hezi Cohen Gallery brought Sigalit Landau’s salt basket – an iconic work from her Dead Sea series. Meir Pitzchadze’s works on paper give a rare opportunity to look into the preparation process of the late artist for his oil paintings. On a more contemporary note, the outside wall of the booth shows Israeli street artist Klone.
Zemack Contemporary Art had a booth for a group show of its prominent artists. For the first time I saw the drawings of Yigal Ozeri. Known for his hyper-realistic portraits of young women, it was very refreshing to see these moving sepia drawings. There were also works by Yuval Yairi, an Israeli photographer the recently gained some international traction. Zemack also represents international artists such as Piet Van Den Boog and Martin C. Herbst.
Another booth by Zemack was dedicated to a solo show by Israeli artist Lee Yanor. Yanor focuses on the photographing of movement. In order to enhance this notion, the images are printed on two parallel surfaces – one is the canvas and the other is transparent chiffon, with few centimeters separating them. The air between the surfaces and the way it plays when you move around the artwork leave the viewer with a spiritual intangible feeling.
I hope this short trilogy gave you a sense of the vibrant Israeli contemporary art scene. I would be grateful if you could share this with as many art lovers as possible, as well as subscribe to the mailing list so I can keep you posted in the future.