Eliahou Eric Bokobza









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Bezalel - version B
The Artists House, Jerusalem, December 2006
Nelly Aman Gallery, Tel Aviv, February 2007
                      





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Eliahou Eric Bokobza’s works are concocted from the historical materials that characterized the Israeli art scene during the time of Boris Schatz’s Bezalel. Bokobza followed six Mizrahi* artists who studied and worked at the Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts up to the 1930s. The exhibition provides the biographical and imaginary portraits of Yaacov Mizrahi, Haim Mahboub, Haviv Sason, Yehuda Nahmias, David Serry, and Rahamim Ezra. Bokobza’s research is more than a historical-documentary investigation; he also carries out an aesthetic-visual study that intends to save the authentic Eastern motif from the forgotten depths of Orientalism.
Bokobza sees in this group of artists, the social milieu to which he would have belonged if he had been a student at Bezalel during the Schatz period. He completes this move by adding his portrait to the group of portraits he created. Bokobza does not cite the Bezalel School, but rather works within its paradigms that created a Jewish-Zionist formal modus that developed at the Orientalist feet of European romanticism..
Bokobza’s work brings forth grotesques and falsifications along with a seed of truth and political critique. The souvenir shop is not absent from Bokobza’s exhibition either. However, even in the framework of the souvenir shop Bokobza creates a defective carnival. The thread of Bezalel runs through the different parts of the exhibition, from the Mizrahi artists who were active in Bezalel, through the unique aesthetic created there, and to the souvenir shop. As such, it permits a new thinking about the Bezalel heritage and even provides it with a new kind of existence.
Bokobza followed six Mizrahi artists who studied and worked at the Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts from 1906 up to the 1930s. The exhibition provides the biographical and imaginary portraits of Yaacov Mizrahi, Haim Mahboub, Habib Sason, Yehuda Nahmias, David Serry, and Rahamim Ezra.

Bokobza samples a characteristic visual motif of each artist’s work and duplicates it as a colorful ornament decorating the artist’s portrait. The Artists’ images as seen in their painted portraits are based on a combination of materials: ridiculed Orientalism, snippets of biographical data, and historical information. Bokobza’s work brings forth grotesques and falsifications along with a seed of truth and political critique. Citation, collages, simulacra and blurred borders characterize the frivolous “Pop art” that swathes the original Bezalel works.

But make no mistake regarding the carnivality and playfulness. The Bezalel thread runs through the different parts of the exhibition, from the Mizrahi artists who were active in Bezalel, through the unique aesthetic created there, and to the souvenir shop. The three columns of the Bezalel institution: the actual figures who peopled the institution, the Orientalist aesthetic, and the commercial activity, receive a unique reflexive interpretation through Bokova’s aesthetic analysis. As a contemporary Mizrahi artist, Bokobza offers a unique reading of the initial melting pot from which Israeli art developed. This post-colonial reading includes both nostalgic and critical elements. As such, it permits a new thinking about the Bezalel heritage and even provides it with a new kind of existence.

Dr. Dalya Markovich, Dr. Ktzia Alon