New TLV art space aims to elevate the aesthetic of Israeli art

It has been a dark time for the art world, as museums, galleries and art spaces have been closed for most of the past eight months.

A new Tel Aviv art space, Nassima-Landau, is pushing the reset on this mode, bringing a flood of figurative art to Israel, with the bold and colorful works of international and Israeli artists hanging from its pristine white walls. .

The space, which opened its doors on Tuesday 24 November (welcoming visitors in capsules) is the joint project of Steeve Nassima, collector and advisor of Belgian art and Suzanne Landau, former director and chief curator of the Musée d ‘ Tel Aviv art.

The idea behind the art space centrally located on Tel Aviv’s Ahad Ha’am Street is to help put young Israeli and international artists on the map by creating a space that is not a gallery or museum, but rather an art place that adds a different tone and vibe to the local art scene.

“High Voltage”, the nascent exhibition of the new Nassima-Landau art space in Tel Aviv which opened on November 24, 2020 (Courtesy Nassima-Landau)

This first exhibition, “High Voltage”, open from November 24 to January 16, presents 35 works by 15 promising artists, some emerging, others more established and most exhibited for the first time in Israel.

The artists presented in this first exhibition are Henni Alftan, Derek Aylward, Jonathan Edelhuber, Marley Freeman, Christopher Hartmann, Jammie Holmes, Danielle Orchard, Woody de Othello, Hilary Pecis, Gideon Rubin, Lise Stoufflet, Nirit Takele, Ann Toebbe and Guy Yanai , a group that includes three Israelis (Rubin, Takele and Yanai), and the rest from abroad.

This premier group of artists from Nassima-Landau are all known as Figurative Painters, pushing the boundaries of what figurative art means in 2020, with works that rethink and consider historical subjects, current affairs and culture. comics as sources of imagery and inspiration.

“I don’t look at nationalities,” Nassima said. “I want to add something to this environment, to the Israeli art world.”

Most of the works included in “High Voltage” were created especially for the show. Included are American artist Anne Toebbe’s meticulous and detailed portraits of home interiors, with a dollhouse print, done in gouache, collage and pencil and the dreamy navy landscapes and images by the French painter Lise Stoufflet.

“Maysha’s Flowers, 2020”, acrylic on canvas by Hilary Pecis (born 1979, Fullerton, California), as part of the “High Voltage” exhibition at the new Nassima-Landau art space (Courtesy of Nassima-Landau)

Israeli artist Gideon Rubin offers romantic portraits, showing the back of a woman in a red blouse, while American painter Hilary Pecis offers paintings that are colorful snapshots and still lifes of contemporary life.

Ethiopian-born Israeli artist Nirit Takele has a striking portrait of a long-limbed athlete, titled “Boy with Three Stripes”.

It’s an exhibition that offers a glimpse into how the world has changed for figurative artists, with their thick layers of pigment, and the cultural and geographic references that create narratives open to interpretation.

The emphasis here is on international art, bringing works by younger and lesser-known artists from abroad to hang alongside artwork by Israeli artists.

The work of Israeli artist Nirit Takele (born 1985, Kunzila, Ethiopia), “Boy with Three Stripes, 2020”, acrylic on canvas; as part of the show ‘Haute Tension’ in Nassima-Landau (Courtesy Nassima-Landau)

“International art has to be present all the time in Israel,” Landau said. “Some people can go abroad but not everyone; you need it here all the time.

Nassima, a businessman who started collecting art at age 21, spends most of the year in Israel. He discovered the location of Nassima-Landau across from his Tel Aviv home, in what was originally a dilapidated commercial space.

“We’re all going through this crazy pandemic, the economic situation isn’t great, and it was a way of doing something new and compelling, only featuring talented young artists who haven’t really made their mark yet. like superstars, ”he said. .

The idea of ​​the nascent art space is to add to the existing art world in Israel, beyond large and small museums and galleries, said Landau, who is the artistic director of the space d art, working alongside Nassima, the founder.

“I have always wanted to put Israeli art alongside international art, because it advances Israeli art; we don’t want Israel to be provincial, ”said Landau, who worked to do the same at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, after serving as chief curator at the Israel Museum.

‘Culture Crowd, 2015’ by Henni Alftan (born 1979, Helsinki, Finland), oil on canvas (Courtesy Nassima-Landau)

This first Nassima-Landau exhibition aims to push the limits of what already exists in Israel, with in particular the choice of a first exhibition presenting figurative art, a form less seen in Israel in recent years, where video art and photography were much more prevalent, Landau said.

The art space will showcase new artists and will also act as a foundation that identifies and supports artists, with exhibitions, installations and events that offer financial support.

The limits of the Israeli art world tend to push local collectors to buy works of art abroad, in London or New York, Nassima said. They don’t expect the same level of quality in Israel, or assume it will cost double if it’s in Israel.

“Israelis only associate luxury and high-end items with what they find abroad,” Nassima said. “I want to change that in my particular niche. I want to bring this level of aesthetics to Israel. This is my response to the coronavirus. “

Christopher S. Washington