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An Exhibition Opening at ZCA Gallery, Tel Aviv | “A Concrete Fantasy”
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An Exhibition Opening at ZCA Gallery, Tel Aviv | “A Concrete Fantasy”

Picture of Pablo Markin
Updated: 10 December 2015
This February, Zemack Contemporary Art (ZCA) Gallery in Tel Aviv, debuted its latest exhibition, ‘A Concrete Fantasy,’ presenting the works of 13 Israeli artists. The Culture Trip was there to to give you a firsthand review of this latest talent.
“A Concrete Fantasy” Exhibition, An Installation View  | © Courtesy Zemack Contemporary Art Gallery, Tel Aviv
“A Concrete Fantasy” Exhibition, An Installation View | © Courtesy Zemack Contemporary Art Gallery, Tel Aviv

Several miniature halls at each of the two floors this gallery occupies have given the pride of place to the guiding concept of this show that–according to curator Iddo Markus–involves intergenerational subject-matter and cultural contrasts. Indeed, the installation of the works on show subtly indicate comparisons between particular objects of art that have fascinated their more perceptive spectators.

“A Concrete Fantasy” Exhibition, An Installation View  | © Courtesy Zemack Contemporary Art Gallery, Tel Aviv
“A Concrete Fantasy” Exhibition, An Installation View | © Courtesy Zemack Contemporary Art Gallery, Tel Aviv

Located in the high-end shopping area of northern Tel Aviv, ZCA Gallery has gained recognition locally and internationally since opening in 2010. Specifically, in Asia this gallery has been mentioned among the international heavyweights of the global art world, such as London’s White Cube. Being wired into an international art events circuit and with a presence in San Francisco, this gallery puts Tel Aviv on the global art map, due to its regular representation at art fairs in New York, London, Singapore, Toronto and Miami.

“A Concrete Fantasy” Exhibition, An Installation View  | © Courtesy Zemack Contemporary Art Gallery, Tel Aviv
“A Concrete Fantasy” Exhibition, An Installation View | © Courtesy Zemack Contemporary Art Gallery, Tel Aviv

The visual density of this exhibition sheds an indirect light on what might set this gallery apart from the local art landscape. The Tel Aviv Museum of Art is a logical contrast for this show, since Iddo Markus has put the content of the exhibited artworks into the foreground by indicating artist names only. This approach has left veteran gallery-goers unfazed, while welcoming occasional visitors to this event explore their associations, impressions or recollections that artworks have called forth unconstrained by art show conventions. While an art history-minded viewer might be tempted to contemplate the interrelations between the hyperrealist works by Yigal Ozeri and Kobi Assaf’s realist, suggestive oil-on-canvas paintings, an international tourist may be amused by the uniformity of sculpted, blurry, almost impersonal countenances that Ofer Lellouche’s minimalist representations of human face turn to their observers.

“A Concrete Fantasy” Exhibition, An Installation View  | © Courtesy Zemack Contemporary Art Gallery, Tel Aviv
“A Concrete Fantasy” Exhibition, An Installation View | © Courtesy Zemack Contemporary Art Gallery, Tel Aviv

One of the key contrasts that Iddo Markus has explored in this show is an intergenerational dialogue between Israeli artists of different artistic periods, such as modernism. A realist, ironic and austere sculpture of Ofer Lellouche presenting an aged, male nude body out of shape is contrasted with an exotic, colorful and playful tableau, in which Tom Tomer Goldberg turns his postmodern gaze toward a composite landscape with no particular references to the Middle East or Israeli art history. Elie Shamir pursues a diametrically opposite strategy of painterly representing what appears at first sight Tuscan air, hills and light, which only a reference to the painting’s title, ‘Lebanon,’ returns its spectator to the intricacies of the Israeli context from which this work has arisen.

A Standing Man | © Ofer Lellouche
A Standing Man | © Ofer Lellouche

As opposed to this intensely local engagement with Israeli regional context, Nir Dvorai, in his dense photographic collages reflects upon the architectural side of urbanization as an everyday life phenomenon of concrete residential façades that can be as representative of Brazil’s social housing as of deteriorating districts of Hong Kong. In other words, this exhibition seeks to shed an aesthetic light on the place of art as an elusive medium for situated reflections about the meaning particular artworks might have. Tamar Roded’s glass enclosure with swirling shiny particles in the jetties of air not only references dynamic sculptures or video art, but also offers a metaphoric take on the frequently ephemeral forms contemporary art takes.

“A Concrete Fantasy” Exhibition, An Installation View  | © Courtesy Zemack Contemporary Art Gallery, Tel Aviv
“A Concrete Fantasy” Exhibition, An Installation View | © Courtesy Zemack Contemporary Art Gallery, Tel Aviv

Wine glass in-hand, the attendees of this opening also appreciated the haunting quality that distinguished the back-lit photographs of somber interiors and open-air scenes that Angelika Sher brought back from her travels to Lithuania. The painterly depth that these images have evoked in their carefully composed explorations of geographically-situated visual fields is counterbalanced by almost monochrome panels with mere traces of photographic or representative motifs that Eugene Lemay and Lee Yanor have contributed to this exhibition. As the consonant choice of color and urban imagery that the works of Eran Shakine and Aram Gershuni have been characterized by bring home, the curator of this show was also concerned with similarities that unusual works of these artists evince, rather than with artistic contrasts only.

Untitled, An Inkjet Print (2013-2014) | © Angelika Sher
Untitled, An Inkjet Print (2013-2014) | © Angelika Sher

As Iddo Markus highlights in his curator’s statement, this exhibition, thus, brings into relief the intergenerational consonances and differences in the works of Israeli artists. Erez Israeli’s sculpted garlands that remind of funereal wreaths and Romanesque tombs alike connect this show to a larger historical, geographical and cultural context that is rich with international artistic influences and cultural contacts. Since artists exhibited in this gallery have held exhibitions or participated in group shows locally and around the world, by its particular selection and installation of their works, this exhibit of the selected Israeli artists invites its visitors to contemplate their visual and aesthetic commonalities and contrasts as much as their positioning vis-à-vis international contemporary art events, such as global art fairs and biennials.

Olya, A Watercolor | © Yigal Ozeri
Olya, A Watercolor | © Yigal Ozeri

By Pablo Markin

In addition to his more academic involvements, Pablo Markin is a globe-trotting flâneur with a keen interest in Tel Aviv’s and, more broadly, Israel’s cultural scene and urban spaces. His Instagram impressions, blog articles and exhibition reviews can be followed on Twitter (@pbmarkin).