The Israeli art permanent collection at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art was reopened to the public in February of this year.
In an interview with the NY Times published this week, Dalit Matatyahu, the Israeli art collection’s curator admitted: “We were taught, or learned, to look at art just as a symbol for something else; I’m trying to look at the art as if I do not know anything.”
It is a stunning admission by a woman who curates art that by the simple name it is called, "Israeli art" becomes problematic to a whole community in the country.
Yet Matatyahu has managed to forego conventions and in the process, has created an artistic bridge of understanding that includes Palestinian Ukrainian citizen of Israel, Maria Saleh Mahameed, whose 30-yard long painting is captured above, as well as a bust by a Scottish Jewish artist, Benno Schotz, who spent most of his life in Glasgow. The collection redefines what Israeli art is and finally includes Palestinians and the Jewish diaspora in the conversation.
Needless to say, what is on view is exceptional and a testament to the power of art, in all its forms and provenance, to help create a dialogue between cultures. And thus, help fix the chaos of the tower of Babel purposely created by politicians the world over. Because it "showcases artists from outside the traditional pantheon, including both West Bank settlers and Palestinians, highlights some lesser-known works by well-known artists, and departs from a chronological narrative that puts art in the service of Israeli history," as Patrick Kingsley notes in his NY Times article.
There are paintings by Reuven Rubin, Nahum Gutman, Pinhas Litvinovsky, Moshe Castel, and others, as well as works from the 1940s that bear the hallmarks of the ideology of the Canaanist movement, and examples of the transition to abstraction in the landscape works of the New Horizons group of artists. And the works of artists such as Ruth Schloss, Naftali Bezem, and Pery Rosenfeld offer an exploration of various issues, including the Holocaust, the Israeli War of Independence and the Palestinian Naqba of 1948.
Beside its chronological presentation, the current exhibition also provides leading women artists from the 1960s to the present with "a room of their own," showcasing Aviva Uri, Lea Nikel, Hagit Lalo, Michal Na’aman, Deganit Berest, Tamar Getter, Nurit David, Pamela Levy, Jenifer Bar-Lev, and Bianka Eshel Gershuni.
To arrange a visit to the museum, check out their website.