Toronto is a very international and diverse city. Being an immigrant you actually feel at home because most of the people nowadays living in Toronto are immigrants. We were joking one day at work that there are no Canadians in the house, or Canadian-born… Well, it was almost the truth, since we did have couple of guys that were born in Toronto, but overall, our team consisted of people from all over the world – China, Romania, Turkey, Scotland, Israel, India, Russia, and more!
This weekend I went to a very special art show at the Gardiner Museum in Toronto
. The Gardiner is a museum dedicated to the ceramic arts. I must admit that I have been many times across the street at the Royal Ontario Museum, the ROM, but never had the chance to visit the Gardiner. So I was glad to have this opportunity. What was so special about it is that for the first time, the Gardiner has a show of Israeli ceramic artists, the “From the Melting Pot into the Fire – Contemporary Ceramics in Israel
” show, and coming with the Israeli Artists Group of Greater Toronto
, we were honoured to have a special tour with artist Yael Novak
of the Ceramic Artists Association of Israel (CAAI),
who was instrumental in bringing the show to Toronto.
It is hard to explain in a short article all the beautiful artworks which are part of the show, and one must go and appreciate in person all the skillful and highly artistic works on display. There are some special themes that runs through the show, such as identity, individuality and integration, home and community. There are some similarities between the melting pot of the Israeli society, which was built from many different immigration waves from all around the world, to the Canadian human-landscape, forged throughout the years from many different immigrating communities. In both places, the local culture both influences the newcomers, and changes slightly by new traditions brought from far lands. But Israel’s complex existence with all its daily difficulties and triumphs, is another catalyst in the local artistic creation. And that was something me and my friends had the advantage of understanding some of the cultural background behind the artworks.
Here are some examples of the amazing work from the show:
Yael Novak, In Between the Pots
In her work, Yael Novak combines her love for pottery and architecture. She “draws” in the negative space between the pots some of the common Israeli landscape icons – small and large city houses, modern high-rises, muslim and Arabic dome-covered buildings, minarets, and cypress trees (click on the image to see a better view).
Yael Novak, In Between the Pots, 2006, Slip-cast earthenware, terra sigilatta, 30x360x40 cm
Avner Singer and Varda Bar Shamai, The Building Blocks of Memory/Monument to the Hebrew Language
Built of 30 earthenware cubes, Singer’s and Bar Shamai’s work represents the letters of the Hebrew language, and on each it depicts different symbols from the far and near history of the Hebrew revival, such as ancient Hebrew letters, a Mizrach (East) paper-cut design, daily newspapers title logos, and more. The work can be arranged in many different ways, and views from all around, giving new meanings to each representation.
Avner Singer and Varda Bar Shamai, The Building Blocks of Memory/Monument to the Hebrew Language, 2006, Earthenware, 30 cubes: 27x27x27 cm each
Dora Zanger Schechtel, Hand Warmers
This colourful artwork reminds us of primitive mandalas, fully painted with repeating designs of primitive symbols. Using the hand warmers on a circular platform close to the ground, Dora Zanger Schechtel invites us to come around, sit down, warm our hands, and listen to her stories of immigration, culture, friendship, roots and prosperity.
Dora Zanger Schechtel, Hand Warmers, 2006, Mold-pressed earthenware, wooden base, slabs, glazing. 120 cm diameter
Leah Sheves, Essence of an Ornament
In this work, Leah Sheves combines west and east – the simple forms of the Bauhaus, an architecture style originated from Germany, and of which many of the buildings in Tel Aviv and other cities in Israel are based on, with decorative patterns and motives from the east, such as the Mashrabiya (Arabic term for a type of window enclosed with carved wood).
Leah Sheves, Essence of an Ornament, 2006, hand-built stoneware, under glazes, 7x42x22 cm
This show is highly recommended, so if you happen to be in Toronto between now and May 9th 2010, go see it! And when you do, come back and let me know how you liked it…
To read more about this show, visit the Gardiner Museum website
Also, Christopher Jones article from TO Live With Culture, Home Is Where the Art Is, February 3rd, 2010
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