The New Logistics Center in South Tel Aviv, on the border of Holon , is the latest venue selected for the Fresh Paint Contemporary Art Fair, now in its sixth incarnation. (A plea to the organizers: next year, please refrain from opting for another ‘surprising’ location, and settle instead on a more easily accessible venue).
The big news was the introduction of Fresh Design – where well known designers are displaying their work in the same space as 33 up-and- coming young designers(‘The Design Greenhouse.’) In the Art section of the Fair the situation is different and better: the ‘Greenhouse’ artists have their own space, so no comparisons can be made between them and established artists whose work can be seen in a a separate pavilion under the auspices of the art galleries that promote them. This new presence markedly changes the original character of the Fair.
The main problem with the Greenhouse for Design lies in the fact that it is dominated by the work of well known designers or design studios. The up and coming generation cannot compete. For example, Tal Gur, Dov Gancrow, Profs. Yaacov Kaufman and Chanan de Lange, all on the staff of the Industrial Design department at Bezalel, are exhibiting together, showing whimsical but perfectly finished items of furniture and light fitments. The sophistication of their designs, like those on display by other experienced designers, overshadows the offerings of the less experienced group.
This year the Independent Artists Greenhouse has 53 artists participating, selected from 1000 applicants. Noted in general, is an abundance of bland painting in a variety of styles, plus some truly awful surrealist pieces. And while video artists (five in number) are showing works that examine our society and the way we live, almost all the painters have avoided subject matter that carries a social message or makes a statement. (This may well be the preference of the jury who selected the artists).
Portraiture is much in evidence, as is landscape, that old faithful. Among the more successful ventures are the large format under- waterscapes of Amir Genislaw in which blurred figures are shown at vanishing point; and Iddo Markus‘ series of miniatures (oil on slabs of wood). Painting one canvas a day for the last few years, he appears to be investigating the history of landscape painting from the Romantic era to the color fields of Rothko.
With sculptural installations under-represented, it is photography that makes the strongest impression. Clearly, the judges of the two awards given annually at the Fair are of the same opinion. Sotheby’s ‘Under the Hammer’ prize has gone to Liat Ebling, her second honor – she won the 2011 Leon Constantiner Prize for Israeli photographer. She is represented here by views of minimalistic interiors and of fantastic buildings, effects produced through pre-constructed models, photography and digital processing. Her winning photo will be included in the next Israeli and International Art Sale at Sotheby’s New York. Expenses paid by Sotheby’s and all proceeds from the sale of her work going directly to the artist.
Sharing the Igal Ahouvi Art Collection’s Most Promising Artist award, a cash prize of 40,000 NIS and promise of a solo exhibition at the next Fair, are two artists, who live and work together in Berlin: Ella Littwitz and Amir Yatziv. Photographing in the Negev desert at night, Yatziv has employed a thermographic process in which an infrared camera measures temperature variations of bodies or objects. The result is a remarkable set of prints. Shadowy and menacing, they include a view of an Iron Dome battery and silhouettes of creatures of the night, ‘caught’ on camera.
Under the title ‘Hollow Heart, Littwitz shows pigment prints of delicate beauty. They belie the fact that the origin of her work was old slides produced by a German botanist that examined diseases and deformities affecting the potato plant.
Whether one approves of Fresh Paint 6 or not, with its problematic marriage of Art with Design, there can be no doubt that this event, accompanied as it is by lectures, discussions, films and performances, has become a permanent fixture on the art calendar. It has also become an increasingly complex undertaking in which the driving forces behind it are still Fresh Paint CEO Sharon Tillinger and Art Director Yifat Gurion who, together, launched the event six years ago. .
The New Logistics Center, Tel Aviv – Yafo. 48, Tel Giborim Street, South Tel Aviv. A five day event that closes on Saturday evening, 25th May.