El Male Rahamim [“God, Full of Mercy”]

AUCTION 71 | Wednesday, December 14th, 2016 at 1:00
Israeli & International Art

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Lot 27

El Male Rahamim [“God, Full of Mercy”]

Oil on canvas. Signed by the artist and dated on reverse. Framed. 23.75 x 23.75 inches; 60 x 60 cm.

Tel Aviv, 1996.:

Est: $10,000 - $15,000
As both artist and teacher, Moshe Gershuni (b. 1936) has been a highly visible force expressing his identity as an Israeli and a Jew in a way that no other artist before him has done. Gershuni was one of the first artists in Israel at the end of the 1960’s to explore highly modernistic, iconoclastic possibilities, creating works which were paradigms of Conceptual art and in the 1970’s extending his art to public performance. As a stimulating teacher in Bezalel, he fueled the imagination of many young artists, especially towards political involvement. In 1996 Gershuni held a joint exhibition with Raffi Lavie in the Givon Gallery in Tel Aviv. The exhibition was highly regarded, not only because it presented a body of work of two canonical figures in Israeli art, or as it was defined, of ‘local masters turning 60,’ but primarily because of its relationship to Israeli public space. Gershuni’s works, which included the present canvas with the caption ‘El Male Rachamim,’ feature large, dark, paint stains, similar to eyes, making use of thick impasto, and is interpreted as a reaction to the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The ‘eyes’ motif, creating a basic facial form, possesses a rich iconography. Along with literary references such as Hayim Nahman Bialik’s poem, ‘These hungry eyes that so earnestly seek,’ or the poetry of Avraham Ben-Yitzhak, Gershuni testified that the eyes came from “there”.’’Sometimes I think of the picture of my family from Poland as the source of those eyes. I have in my head a picture of a moving train, and from between the slats, a pair of dark eyes of a little girl or little boy peeps out. The empty eyes followed me around long before I painted them.” <<Provenance: >>Acquired from Givon Gallery, Tel Aviv, 1996. <<Exhibited: >>Jewish Museum, New York, After Rabin: New Works in Israeli Art (1998).