TALIA ISRAELI: Generation Three


Photographed by Ami Erlich

Photographed by Ami Erlich

TALIA ISRAELI / Generation Three

Curator by Yham Hameiri

13.3.2014 – 12.4.2014

Talia Israeli wanders around South Tel Aviv of 2014, among the phenomena of dislocation, neglect, patchwork, hostility, loneliness and alienation which one encounters head-on in the lower end of the city.  She doesn’t object to these phenomena, but rather embraces them to herself and spews them back out onto the canvas in nearly real-time in order to preserve immediacy.  She works as an artist, like a ‘familiar stranger’, filled with awe, wonder and despair.

On the way to the studio, as I pass by the central bus station – I observe this territory and see a great deal of human/artistic interest – raw material.  My painting approach is naturalistic, but reality is only interesting when it borders on the fictional. Even so, I feel I am documenting, and therefore must paint quickly. It’s an energy similar to that with which they built and are building Tel Aviv. One patch on the next.

She pounds the pavement as night falls, in the sparse murky light that spills onto the South Tel Aviv streets, the darkness and filth mingling together. The sidewalks are broken, narrow.  She lifts her gaze as a car with boisterous teenagers passes her by and awards her with a prolonged horn blast.

It’s difficult to remain uninvolved.  It’s a moment in which things mingle together, a faded hair salon and a hotdog boutique.  I want to show a moment in which things change and encompass inside a change of values. A place where the concept of “temptation” and marketable beauty is not the overriding motivation.  I succumb to a fluctuation of exchanges, to the movement of migration that the surface of this area gathers within it. I detail this alienation within the painting.

Israeli bends over the sidewalk, amidst the stores’ neon inscriptions flashing in yellow and phosphorescent purple, gathering and ingesting the gaps and the visual, cultural, crude seams of collapsing identity in the streets, trying to grasp it from each of its ends.

HaAliya Street is not exotic, there is something alive here, but it is the edge, the outer margin of the city.  Its proximity to Rothschild Street and the contrasts between the two thoroughfares, creates an essential difference between the territories that separate them by a few meters. I don’t isolate the social aspect.  The south still has breached, organic and nonconformist open space, beyond exposure to political hierarchy, permitting unexpected, undictated reflection and awareness. Similarly, the social detachment connects randomly to a kind of reality, ruled by lack of organization and lack of thought, and that’s how things appear. The city’s appearance and it components are laid out in total chaos, creating a mosaic of one reality at the edge of which I am located. I am at the end of the thought.

The cracks in the walls, in the streets and in reality are large, and she paints what ‘leaks out’ of them, from among the wall paintings.  She does this with her eyes wide open, with great urgency, with esthetics as a derivative of morality.

There is something that must be reacted to quickly. You touched it, and cannot return.  Relatively large parts of the canvas remain bare. I almost never return to the same place twice. Something about the brutality and immediacy felt right to me. My painting attempts to include images of hidden tension occurring below the surface, disquiet, violence. In the current series of paintings, aggression has become part of the painting application itself. The question is whether the images need to reflect reality at high volume, or instead to enable a break through art. The answer is complex and variable, and the painting wishes to communicate exactly that.

She moves alternately between her involvement and the need for representation.  Israeli sees herself as someone who documents a mixture of representations that will create themselves in real time. She tries to preserve the energy of the city’s streets.  With her studio implanted there, and her home outside the city, she moves moonstruck, neurotically between the two poles.  Every painting adds another aspect of the economic and social expanse from which it draws its inspiration. The painting becomes for her a sort of creation of images, a laboratory whose experimental results develop on the canvas.

You’re exposed and peeled, exposed to the grotesque, you walk around well-dressed between heaps of garbage.  Something about the largeness of the paintings enables attacking and forcing of the body’s attention.  On the other hand, it’s a great deal of space to fill in order to call this ‘attacking.’  For example, even in North Tel Aviv there is a sense of psychosis ‘on the verge of nervous collapse,’ but attention is drawn to other places, and along with it the artistic treatment also changes.  The streets of South Tel Aviv cluster people at different levels of detachment, including myself.  There are varying levels and directions of aspirations to be part of something bigger, but the momentary situation and lack of certainty impel toward a kind of survival brutality, to a very coarse situation. The painting action tries to reflect this, but also to rehabilitate and heal. Afterwards, in the gallery it’s more remote, the feeling of urgency is blunted as is the detachment….

In the display window, which I draw, there are many visual, vibrating and textual options. An image is selected to become a painting when it encompasses within itself something and its opposite – conflict.  The same logic is extended to the display window and the image: at one moment in time it’s a store, property and place, and in the next moment it’s also a heap of refuse that civilization has regurgitated from within itself. Perhaps the painting as a cultural act can diverge from this sequence so it will then have a different perspective.

Blinded by those same neon inscriptions, by the sun’s beating rays and the disturbing night, filled with the potential of violence, Talia Israeli also defines through this scene the generation, a hybrid generation, aware, confused, apparently having possibilities but choked, a generation whose axis of reference constantly moves relative to a formative moment – a tangible catastrophe that happened.

I am third generation, repeating the patchwork act, melted in the fiery oven. “Generation Three” are people who run the country right now, it is us and it is in our image. The number of generations signifies the distance from the Holocaust. Most of the decisions and the methods of action are, in fact, a derivative of this distance. Both children and immigrants place themselves in relation to the formative moment of the catastrophe. Into this counting and generational placement, the jargon of technological progress has been misplaced and mixed in as an indicator of “progressing in life”, as something toward which one should aspire. “Generation Three” is the present (with eyes in back and in front) as an antistatic metamorphosis, which like painting – tears apart and builds, collapses and erects, erases and rewrites, tempts and cancers. A place of confusion between Hebrew and universality, hesitant and assertive, a mix of names and images, the products of faltering crossbreeding of experience and language.

Yham Hameiri, March 2014


Talia Israeli, born in 1976, Israel. Lives and works in Tel Aviv. Graduated from Bezalel with excellence. Completed her MFA at Goldsmiths University of London. Israeli has had solo exhibitions in the country, including Bio-Power at Alon Segev Gallery, and Last City at Tavi, as well as abroad. This past winter Israeli had her first solo exhibition in Paris at Evi Gougenheim / Artplace. She has participated in numerous group exhibitions in Israel and abroad (London, Moscow and Milan) and has had works featured in local art fairs (Fresh Paint) and international art fairs (Art Forum, Berlin). Her work can be found in many collections, both public and private, home and abroad, including the IDB, the Mandel Collection, and the Rappaport Collection. Israeli currently teaches at Bezalel.