Let There Be Light
The exhibition, “Let There Be Light,” opened at the Naima House Gallery in the Nachlaot neighbourhood of Jerusalem on Saturday, December 31, coinciding with the last day of Chanukah (the Jewish Festival of Lights) and New Year’s Eve. The show addresses the theme of light, common to both of these annual events, from a variety of perspectives.
The well-arranged display includes pieces by 12 artists, most of whom have come to live in Israel from the FSU: realistic/impressionistic paintings, symbolic works in various styles, glass compositions, and some tapestries.
In the center of the show is a most impressive large polyptych, “Chanukah Tale” (16 out of the 24 small canvases are shown) by Kiev-born Anatoly-Shmuel Schelest, who has been in Israel for 10 years. These mixed-media paintings feature hanukiot, other Jewish ceremonial objects, and Jewish figures are in muted colours with different lighting. Well-known artist Alexander Gurevich, in Israel since 1993, is represented by 10 works in symbolic style, which he infuses with light in his own unique way. His painting, “The Pilgrim,” is shown on the invitation to the exhibition; and “The Abandoned House” consists of many windows, some of which are lit up. Tenne Pent Sooster’s “Above the Light” is a large back-and white, mixed-media work on paper. Alex Magafy’s three oils include “Chanukah Poker” and “Holy Family” (with a large religious man in the foreground and more modern family members further back). Boris Gozzo’s small paintings of Hebrew letters are done on parchment. Bulgarian-born Asia Katz, who lives in Safed, paints small delicate mixed-media works often featuring women in warm but subtle colours. Two of Jacob Feldman’s monochrome oil portraits of women include attached candles in wrought iron holders. Both the rural landscapes by Yaffa Wagner (born in Iran and brought to Israel as a baby, who is the owner of the gallery premises), focussing on trees, fields and skies; and the urban Jerusalem scenes by Rifkah (Rita) Goldberg, who immigrated from England over 40 years ago, express more literal representations of light. Both Yaffa and Rifkah also write poetry. Michal Dan shows ceramics. Leonid Kritsun’s attractive glass work includes: two chanukiot, fashioned out of thin glass plates, one of them in a beautiful pastel turquoise shade; illuminated cubes decorated with copies of Chagall and Margritte paintings; and “The Big Bang,” a large flattened flower shape with a circle of light continually changing colours flowing through it.
The charming late 19th century house with typical alcoves, tall arched windows, the original paved stone floor, and many pre-Mandate objects provides an interesting setting for this eclectic attractively hung show curated by Alexey Mikhailov.
The opening evening was enhanced by three short performances by the pianist Naaman Wagner, opera singer Svetlana Bendikov; and Yaffa Wagner who read excerpts form her latest book of poetry.
An interesting way to start the New Year 2017!
Rifkah Goldberg, January 2017