An intimate look at aspects of two artists’ lives, visualized through women and their images, is on display at two new shows in Holon, Tel Aviv’s design-conscious, next-door neighbor.
Miri Ziv, a long-time fashion illustrator and lecturer at Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, shares her thoughts and feelings in”#MYARTJOURNAL — Fashion Illustrations,” currently being shown at Beit Meirov, a city-owned gallery in Holon.
The show is an arrival of sorts for Ziv, 61, who has drawn all of her life, but entered a much darker period when her 19-year-old son, Lior, was killed in 2003 while serving as an army photographer in Gaza.
At the time, “it seemed idiotic to draw views and fashion,” she said.
She drew less and when she did, her subjects and output were much darker, lacking the lighthearted colors and images of her usual subject matter.
At some point, however, Ziv made a conscious decision to continue to live, she said, and to eke out as much joy as possible from her life.
Her art was part of that process, as were her husband and two surviving children, as well as three grandchildren who arrived later on.
And when she returned to her illustrations, they had changed, in some fashion.
“It was all bigger and more free, with sketchbooks around me all the time,” she said.
In fact, said Ziv, it was her long-time colleague, Leah Peretz, who heads the fashion design department at Shenkar, who first encouraged her to work on a show, urging her to gather the illustrations she constantly sketches throughout each day, in sketchbooks and notebooks of all sizes.
And it was Peretz who curated the show, urging her to use a paper diary and fill its pages daily with her thoughts, travels and ideas, which she did, with alacrity.
“It was really a dialogue between us, she really advanced my work,” said Ziv. “It was truly a conversation between us.”
The crux of the exhibit are the dozens of pages taken from Ziv’s paper calendar, used daily over the course of a year to express her thoughts, jottings, experiences and emotions through her illustrations and collages.
There are sketches of mundane matters, including her dental care, graphic drawings of women and their menstrual cycles, a collage of images and souvenirs from a trip to Zanzibar, self-portraits of Ziv herself, as she gazes unpityingly at her own aging features.
From there, the exhibit expands to larger pages torn from her sketchbooks, with bright slashes of paint and ink, as well as the occasional ripped piece of notepaper or receipt, used to form the faces, bodies and dress of her subjects.
While Ziv is a fashion illustrator, it isn’t the clothing or trends that obsess her, but rather the visuals, colors and shapes that emerge on the page.
Ziv is a master of the quick sketch, throwing forms onto paper, sometimes using stains from her coffee mug to form the basis of illustrations, using what she has and letting immediate thoughts guide her work.
“I let the stain happen,” she said, “and then draw what I see in it.”
The exhibit expands into another room, painted a bright salmon color and featuring a collection of oversized paintings that echo Ziv’s thoughts about Instagram, the photo application that has become a central space for creative imagery and fashion illustration.
She follows those who influence fashion, celebrities like Kim Kardashian, less for what she wears, and more for her innate effect on the world of fashion. Ziv loves hashtags, the word tags that have become part of everyday vernacular, and examines society’s obsession with selfies, of young women snapping photos of themselves in bikinis.
Upstairs, there is a series of her larger sketchbook works, darker images inked mostly in black and white, with long threads of pink, purple and red embroidered into the thick vellum paper, a process that caused Ziv to prick her fingers more than once, leaving traces of blood on the paper that she used to stain the page.
She didn’t enclose any of the works in glass or frames for the show, preferring to leave it all open and exposed, just as it was when she created it.
Before reaching the end of the exhibit, there is a round table full of papers and pens for visitors to try their own hand at illustration; Ziv and Peretz included a video showing Ziv at work, much of it recorded from a smartphone held in her left hand, as she captured what she was drawing with her right.
It’s the final appreciation of this artist’s innate talents and ability to tackle the immense struggles of her life.
#MYARTJOURNAL, January 12-March 9, 2019, Beit Meirov Gallery, 31 Herzfeld, Holon
A short drive away is Moriah Edar Plaksin’s “Bar-Bie,” the results of her longtime, virtual conversation with model Bar Refaeli that began during her studies at the Bezalel art academy in Jerusalem.
Edar Plaksin was attempting to understand how obsessions develop, and how beauty is perceived, by following Refaeli, her images and her life.
“It was a process without criticism,” she said, “I was just trying to understand about what is defined as beauty, what Bar looks like when she’s working with fashion photographers and what she looks like when the paparazzi is bothering her.”
Edar Plaksin is a ceramicist, and for the purposes of this collection, worked with porcelain created with a 3D printer, mimicking the look and feel of Wedgwood, the iconic, unglazed, pale blue china that is synonymous with the English pottery company. She felt the classic, fine china echoed Bar Refaeli’s unique characteristics.
There are plates, chalices, bottles, even lamp shades featuring miniature images of a pregnant Refaeli.
She eventually brought herself into the conversation with Refaeli, in the porcelain images she created with the 3D printer, in Wedgwood-decorated plates containing both of their images, or facing opposite from each other in a Rorschach of profiles suspended in a chalice.
“I’m trying to talk about the differences between us, and strangely, they’re not great,” she said, noting their similarities in ages and heights. “We’re both trying to operate in this world with our abilities, she does it better than I do, but that’s what we all do.”
The ceramicist reaches a height of her Bar-bie creations in her process of making a new “Bar-bie” mold, recorded in a seven-minute video of her hands, shown remaking a typical Barbie doll as a freed, more average person.
“Barbie is always displayed in a box and then put again in another box and another box, and that’s what interested me, we go from mold to mold, we’re freed and then enter other frameworks,” said Edar Plaksin. “We always find ourselves with others who are like us, and it’s a question that one has to think about.”
Bar-bie, January 12-March 2, 2019, HaChava, The Farm Gallery, 1 Nechoshet Street, Holon