It’s true, Israelis always love a fair, but this is one that does stand out from the rest. Tel Aviv’s Fresh Paint art fair, now in its sixth year, is in full swing, and it’s almost overwhelmingly impressive — a vast showcase of diversity and creativity.
The five-day extravaganza, which is on through Saturday, features the country’s leading contemporary art galleries and their established artists, as well as young, up-and-coming art galleries, and the Greenhouse program, which showcases the works of 50 emerging artists.
There’s also the Most Promising Artist award winner show, community projects and fundraising programs, and the Fresh Paint Salon, a program of lectures, talks and encounters. Finally, this year, the organizers have added Fresh Design, a separate exhibit of furnishings, lighting design and accessories by local designers, galleries, brands and design boutiques.
The fair’s location changes each year, taking visitors to sometimes obscure venues. Last year it was held at the redeveloped Jaffa Port; this year, it’s set up at what will become Tel Aviv’s new Logistics Center, Israel’s first comprehensive municipal logistical HQ, the base for all of Tel Aviv’s logistical services. For now, it’s a sprawl of high-ceilinged buildings that afford plenty of space to display plenty of art.
The show is attracting large crowds, and the parking situation is somewhat atrocious, but it proves well worth the minor inconvenience when you emerge into the great open space that is the fair, in its massive hangars transformed into art galleries, complete with the requisite coffee bars and drinks stands (created by organic coffeehouse LoveEat), and an addictive buzz of creativity.
Fresh Paint runs through Saturday, May 25. Outdoor screenings are held each night. The fair is open Thursday, May 23, until 11 pm, Friday, from 10 am – 6 pm, and Saturday, 10 am – 10 pm. Tickets cost NIS 45 each. Directions and other details are here.
Here are the top five reasons for getting yourself to Fresh Paint, right now:
1) Become an art patron: One room in Fresh Paint is dedicated to the Secret Postcard project — 1,000 original, postcard-size artworks by renowned artists and designers, and by young artists and students. The trick is that the postcards are anonymously displayed, and each one costs the same NIS 180, whether the artist is famous, or not. Once a postcard is purchased, the buyer can find out the identity of the artist behind the postcard (and whether that postcard is going to be worth something).
All the proceeds from the sale go to the Meyerhoff Art Education Center at the Tel Aviv Museum, to fund grants for art studies for gifted teens from underprivileged families.
2) There’s nothing quite like that sense that you’re discovering an artist on the cusp of success.
At Fresh Paint Greenhouse, many such discoveries are made, verified by the number of red dots signifying whether their pieces have been sold. Aviv Gad Keller, whose dreamy landscapes and urban scenes are “drawn” in a complex weave of embroidery, had sold most of his pieces, each priced at around $10,000, by Wednesday night.
His neighbor on the next wall, Iddo Marcus, is also popular. His rows of miniature oil paintings are best viewed with one of the magnifying glasses hung on the wall nearby.
3) Art appreciation is most certainly a subjective matter, and the sheer number of artworks — 25 galleries showing their artists’ works, 14 spaces featuring more than 75 emerging artists in the Greenhouse, plus the same number, more or less, in the Fresh Design space — makes it slightly difficult to home in on what you like and what you’d rather avoid. I spent more than a few minutes with Gal Weinstein’s “Nahalal,” a depiction of the Jezreel Valley kibbutz created from fragments of carpeting and artificial grass. Weinstein, 42, is considered a leading artist of the younger generation, and always works with synthetic materials. His “Nahalal” piece is circular, based on the kibbutz’s famed circular shape when seen from the sky as planned by architect Richard Kaufmann, who immigrated to Israel in 1920 and helped plan Tel Aviv’s White City.
4) Industrial design is a major draw right now, and Israel is a center for this combination of cutting-style creativity that produces everything from light fixtures and side tables to kitchen utensils, table settings and lawn furniture. The Fresh Design hangar includes projects by established designers — think pleather bags by the usually leather-centric Daniella Lehavi, or half-and-half dishes from design shop SOHO — as well as nearly 100 projects by emerging designers in the Design Greenhouse. The concept of the Design Greenhouse is the same as for the Artists’ Greenhouse: showcasing work by young designers. Their exhibits are sometimes wacky, but mostly clever and highly functional.
5) Finally, take some time to sit outside on the chairs and couches set on the white gravel yard, perfect for watching the artsy crowd that shows up for this event. Grab a beer or lemonade, add some tortilla chips and guacamole, or a perfectly respectable brownie (somewhat cakey, but highly edible), and watch the massive screenings of video artworks by independent artists, part of the Video Greenhouse. Here’s a trailer from Hadas Emma Kedar, one of the artists whose work is being screened: