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Japanese Influence on Contemporary Israeli Artists Explored

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL.- The Israel Museum presents Far and Away: The Fantasy of Japan in Contemporary Israeli Art, an exhibition featuring contemporary Israeli artworks that are notable for their striking Japanese influence. On view through June 15, 2006, "Far and Away" includes works by ten Israeli artists in various media, including painting, photography, sculpture, wall installations, and video art.

"The exhibition explores the phenomenon of 'Japanism' in contemporary Israeli art," says Mira Lapidot, curator of the exhibition. "While the majority of these artists do not have intimate knowledge of Japan, the culture has come to represent a kind of fantasy world, distant from their present reality in Israel. This can either be seen as a form of escapism or - by adopting Japanese aesthetics - offer a softening "filter" to look at the demanding and political reality in Israel."

The exhibition features works inspired by two sources: contemporary popular Japanese culture and traditional Japanese art. Various works are influenced by manga (Japanese comics) and anime (Japanese animation), such as Roee Rosen's Tommy Bob, which depicts a cartoon image of an atomic bomb. Other works on display incorporate traditional Japanese elements, such as Aya Ben-Ron’s hanging prints inspired by Japanese scrolls and the asymmetrical compositions in Doron Rabina's photographs, which reflect the artist's concern with flatness, one of the most distinct hallmarks of Japanese art. Yehudit Sasportas's Wall of Darkness is divided into rectangular sections with movable painted panels that resemble sliding wooden-framed Japanese paper doors or folding screens. Traditional Japanese iconography also appears in Yehudit Matzkel's series Tree of Knowledge, where the artists created glossy portraits of bonsai trees grown in Israel-among them pomegranate, orange, acacia, and fig-photographed against stark, black backgrounds. Other artists featured in the exhibition are Zoya Cherkassky, Roi Kuper, Hila Lulu Lin, Tal Shochat, and Eliezer Sonnenschein.

The exhibition is made possible by the donors to the Museum's 2006 Exhibition Fund: Melva Bucksbaum and Raymond J. Learsy, Aspen, Colorado; Hanno D. Mott, New York; and The Nash Family Foundation, New York.

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