Alona Rodeh, Jessy, 2019. Photo by Tal Nisim
Murals is an ongoing exhibition and project that explores Israeli wall art and the changing rationale behind it while also questioning its role in current public spaces. It has evolved through a series of new works established in the compound of the Center for Digital Art, Holon, and will be extended to additional sites in the near future.
Murals, or wall art, refers to artwork executed on building walls and architectural environs. The modern version of this genre emerged in Israel in the 1930s and reached its peak in the 1950s in kibbutzim, government institutions, and other public or municipal sites. Gideon Ofrat claims that - “Wall art aspires to be popular. It is not the prized acquisition of the wealthy few, the well-to-do. Its incorporation into the architecture or inside spaces of the building combines monumentalism with simplicity, didacticism, and figurativeness.” Historically, the main element in this type of art is its address to the general public, both in form and in content. Its first appearance in Israel is linked to the creation of a historical narrative of the “New Jew” and his national presence in the area. The common imagery of wall art from this period ties between man and earth, between the biblical and historical-local renewal.
But Murals are not only mean to present a narrative; it is a range of familiar shapes, public ornamentations, an architectural landscape encircling us in any urban environment. Unlike monuments, it is not sanctified by death and commemoration, and can, therefore, remain a purely aesthetic form, the backdrop for humanity passing by. This is a form of art that turns to the public in an ongoing fashion, an incidental visual or figurative experience, fleeting before humanity, sometimes leaving an unconscious mark. In that sense, it has the potential to be an experience that exceeds the didactic image it (may have) originally contained.
Another important distinction to make is that wall art is different from graffiti (an artform also focused on artistic expression in public) as it is almost always commissioned. It is invited to become part of the official nature of the public space and address of the public at large. In contrast to the intrinsically anti-establishment cultural roots of graffiti, wall art is engaged in a complex relationship with the narrative espoused by the establishment, at times as its mouthpiece, its opposer, or even its overt or covert judgment.
Participating artists (1st phase):
Shachar Freddy Kislev
Hilla Toony Novok