Spotlight on Israeli Illustration
The Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art's “Tell Me More” exhibition series currently on display, unveils the diverse and surprising facets of the local illustration sphere, spanning sculpture, textiles, photography, and animation
In a unique endeavor, the Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art is dedicating the entirety of its space to Israeli illustration, featuring eight new exhibitions and projects crafted by over 30 artists from multiple generations. Illustration, a favorite among audiences, traverses the realms of design and art and offers relatable narratives. The “Tell Me More” exhibition series reveals the multifaceted and unexpected dimensions of Israeli illustration, as it leaps from the page and is manifested in diverse material forms, from sculpture to textiles, photography, animation, and more.
Beginning in July 2023, “Tell Me More” showcases the expansive spectrum of illustration, from its traditional role in text interpretation to works driven by the artistic visions of their creators. The exhibitions also emphasize storytelling – who tells the story, who seeks to be told, and the role illustration plays in the narrative. Equally significant is the exploration of the “more” aspect, delving into why we crave more (and more) and when we ask for it.
“Zev Engelmayer received his first tribute just days after the opening of his exhibition at the Beit Ha'ir Museum, where the character Shoshka was born, or rather, first emerged from its shell and took on a life of its own. Since then, the tributes continue to pour in, especially as Shoshka has evolved into an activist, from the Balfour protests (in Jerusalem) to regular appearances at the demonstration on Kaplan (in Tel Aviv),” explains Yuval Sa’ar, the curator of the illustration exhibition.
‘1,000 Shoshkas,’ is a pink, crowded, and vibrant site-specific installation dedicated to Shoshka, Engelmayer’s iconic creation. It presents the numerous tributes the character has received since it was first created, which Engelmayer collected. Shoshka made its debut in fanzines some 30 years ago, and later appeared in the book A Journey to Vulgaria. The character is often described as Engelmayer’s alter ego—a plump, pink character with long eyelashes, who leaps from the page and takes to the streets, bearing signs adorned with Engelmayer’s distinctive handwriting and laced with timely humor.
Two compelling forces shape the life of artist Merav Salomon: The need to remember and the yearning to forget. In her exhibition ‘The Unforgettables,’ she revisits a subject she has extensively explored from various perspectives—death and its accompanying elements: Pain, sorrow, and trauma. The exhibition introduces new works, featuring large-scale charcoal drawings, each dedicated to a personal memory of a relative who passed away either before the artist’s birth or during her lifetime. The artworks’ dimensions, the symbols accompanying each depicted individual, and the overall arrangement bestow upon these personal memories a mythic quality, transforming them into memorials.
In her ‘Sources of Grief’ series, Salomon explores mourning and pain. A recurring grotesque female figure assumes various postures of weeping, anguish, and loss of composure. Salomon externalizes grief to a baroque extreme, as bodily fluids flow into grand, monumental fountains, thus amplifying the emotions and pain to the brink of pleasure, just as they are ridiculed and presented as pathetic. Salomon’s works tell stories through visual imagery, often with few words, akin to timepieces presenting varied perspectives on time and the yearning to master it. Memory and forgetfulness act as clock hands that mark the passage of time.
Batia Kolton and Roni Fahima describe themselves as laborers, and their work on the exhibition as a factory, with a rigorous schedule and strenuous, extended physical labor. Their products: Love stories that emerge from the textiles and from the texts. Together, they examine the threads stretching between the machine, craft, and textile, the connection between thread and story, fabric and fabrication, text and textile, the craft of storytelling and the craft of weaving.
Drawing on seven stories, including the Syrian legend ‘Monkey at the Loom,’ the exhibition is based on stories, folk tales and myths that are associated with the textile craft. In a spectacular site-specific installation, Kolton and Fahima expand the perspective and research, both about textile and about theories of the story.
Chief Curator: Dr. Aya Luria; curator of exhibition series: Yuval Sa'ar; co-curators: Shua Ben Ari and Inbal Reuven. The “binge” exhibition is a collaboration with the Edmond de Rothschild Center and Monday.com.