The Okashi Art Museum
Adjacent to the Knights' Halls in Old Acre, an ancient building with cruciform domes dating back to the Ottoman period houses a museum featuring rotating exhibitions of Israeli art alongside a permanent exhibit of the works of late artist, Avshalom Okashi (1916-1980). Okashi was undoubtedly one of Israel's most salient artists and he left an indelible mark on Israeli art. He spent most of his life in Acre, where he set up his painting workshop (which became the Okashi Museum posthumously) in order to pass on his artistic heritage to future generations. Okashi taught art in most of Acre's schools. He also taught at the University of Haifa's Art Department during its initial years. The subjects of his early works are rooted in nature and in the human and spiritual reality of Israel and they are drawn from the biblical texts he grew up on in his grandfather's home.
Avshalom Okashi was one of the lynchpins of the New Horizons movement, a group of artists that formed in Israel after the War of Independence and he presented his work in all of the group's exhibitions. His works are exhibited in the section dedicated to the museum's permanent exhibition in his name, which was established in his memory in Old Acre. Moreover, there are rotating exhibitions in the other section of the museum also featuring contemporary Israeli art. There have been several exhibitions of leading Israeli artists over the years, e.g.: Yigal Ozeri, Ofer Lalouche, Yechiel Shemi, Menashe Kadishman, Shmulik Katz, Tali Amitai-Tabib, Azriel Kaufman, Nahum Gutman and many more illustrious artists. The museum maintains an ongoing dialogue with artists pursuing Okashi's path and with his pupils and exhibits their works at every possible opportunity.
Alice in Wonderland
The fantasy and non-sense that dominate the story and its plot, fascinating its readers and kindling their imagination, are what the artists in this exhibition have captured in a riveting dialogue that gives us a glimpse into a magic world of plastic art inspired by a literary source first published in 1865 and still 'alive and kicking' the world over to this very day. Many other artists in various discipllines have also been influenced by this tale and have created amazing characters because of it (see 5 references below) (1*)
Clara Lachowicz let the story framework of Alice in Wonderland affect her perception of femininity, of the encounter with centers of power and influence, of the relationship between mastery and freedom, of the strong desire to spread one's wings versus the need to cope with reality. She takes this story not only to our current lives but also to the nuclear family, by sharing it with her beloved family members as well. She manipulates the text into her own, special version. She infuses the story with her own life experience to such a degree that it becomes hard to see whether the story gave rise to the work of art or vice versa.
For Ilana Raviv, painting Alice and all the accompanying characters and scenes from the story is an ongoing event. The story of Alice has been with her throughout her creative years as part of her reservoir of raw materials. With her bold, highly expressive brushstrokes she relives a childhood memory, filling it anew with life every time. As she puts it, these figures keep springing up to repopulate her splendid canvases again and again. Ilana's figures intertwine, cling to and envelop each other. At first glance, an observer might feel the need to look for the components of this work, but they become immediately evident in all their glory and all their intensity. Each time it is another figure that earns special treatment, with a new light, a new intuition and spontaneity that defy the laws of realistic representation. The large canvases are filled with vitality, with motion, with bursts of energy. Each work tells a whole story. As she says: "One moment creates another – one form prompts a new one." The artist describes her work as "synthetic realism" which represents an alternative metaphor to reality. Her pictorial language dialogues with artist such as Picasso, Matisse, Miró and with contemporary American artist, Knox Martin.
Clara Lachowicz, on the other hand, created a series of works inspired by Lewis Carroll's adventures as a kind of one-time project. In her work, Clara dialogues with classics such as La Pietà (2*). The artist invites the observer to take an unpredictable voyage of adventure, a voyage of freedom, of discovery, of an encounter with figures from her personal biography that are woven into the lyrical language of her work, as in life. The reversal of logic is the cornerstone of her work and it parallels the viewpoint of the heroine of our story – Alice. "Dear, dear! How queer everything is today! And yesterday things went on just as usual. I wonder if I've been changed in the night. Let me think: was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I'm not the same, the next question is, Who in the world am I? Ah, THAT'S the great puzzle!'
Despite the essential difference in how each artist represents the story, the core of their work draws and directs us to the same elements. And even though they have been detailed in the light of their different lives, the purpose of the difference for each one can be found in a common denominator – their journey through time. It is a journey of adventures into the unknown, containing autobiographical elements that at the same time may be the private journey of each one.
In this voyage of discovery and meeting, stages and turning points in life such as adolescence and coping with the unexpected, drawing conclusions and viewing the world around us from a different perspective, that of a young girl, or perhaps of a grown woman, gaining self-knowledge in the face of this compound of reality and imagination.
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