Funky, provocative illustrations beckon visitors to Tel Aviv

Funky, provocative illustrations beckon visitors to Tel Aviv

Illustration Week takes place for the fourth year, offering opportunities to up-and-coming artists

Curator Yuval Saar at an Illustration Week exhibit Grace Austin/Times of Israel)
Curator Yuval Saar at an Illustration Week exhibit Grace Austin/Times of Israel)

Tel Aviv’s Illustration Week is back for a fourth time, calling attention to up-and-coming young artists, their creations, and the spaces they occupy at dozens of exhibitions around the White City.

Curator Yuval Saar teamed up with 500 artists, many right out of art school in Israel but some international names as well, for 10 days of free public art hosted at curious locales ranging from a hipster bar in Jaffa, a museum on Rothschild, and an industrial space behind a post office on Ibn Gabirol.

Illustration Week started out four years as a small exhibit of illustrations. The concept blossomed into its present form, with an open call for submissions and Saar matching gallery spaces with artists and their work.

“We try to be very democratic. Everyone can participate,” said Saar, a Tel Aviv native. “We are doing it with the municipality, so we really try to do it so as many people can do it, as long as it’s good and new.”

And why illustration?

Visitors at the “Object” exhibit for Tel Aviv Illustration Week on November 19, 2017 (Grace Austin/Times of Israel)

“Illustration connects a lot of fields in art and brings all together,” said Mary Daniel, a representative from Art Platform, a Tel Aviv space for art exhibitions.

Indeed, while one would assume two-dimensional paintings and sketches are the only art on display, artists found creative ways to take the illustration motif and run with it.

At Abraham Hostel near Rothschild Boulevard, after walking down a flight of stairs, visitors are welcomed with art at every turn in the narrow basement corridors and spare rooms.

A stairwell wall is hung with a trio of large canvases neatly arranged with found debris, including metal tools, scraps, razors, protractors, hangers, and even a broken model airplane, fitted to look like letters of the Hebrew alphabet, artist Tomer Elad’s ode to the idea that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

Further down into the building, there are music videos streaming on TVs, a large tent with illustrative scenes on the sides, a series of small city seals updated to reflect contemporary Tel Aviv, and an oversized illustration featuring naked women and churches in a critical view on female stereotypes.

Artist Itamar Makover’s work, colorful, three-dimensional paper pop-ups depicting scenes from Henrik Ibsen’s play “Peer Gynt,” is also on display at Abraham Hostel.

Artist Itamar Makover’s work are colorful, three-dimensional paper pop ups depicting scenes from Henrik Ibsen’s “Peer Gynt,” on November 19, 2017, at Abraham Hostel in Tel Aviv Grace Austin/Times of Israel)

“I think it’s a great opportunity for illustrators to present their work and to also be exposed to what other people are doing. It gives you ideas,” said Makover, who said he was inspired by another artist’s work at the first Illustration Week four years ago.

Other spots around the city include everything on display from erotic Popeye illustrations, photographs with cartoons imposed over the scene, an interactive bowling exhibit, giant canvases with floral illustrations and a denim jacket embroidered with a female empowerment slogan.

And Illustration Week may have broader reach, bringing residents and tourists to spaces around the city and also boosting Tel Aviv’s status as an art center.

“I think there’s not enough interest in art in Israel,” said Daniel. “People in the field of art want to make it more accessible.”

That may be working, as evidenced by visitors to the exhibits.

Yvonne Beister, 40, a tourist visiting the city with friends, wandered into the Edmond de Rothschild Center, which is featuring an exhibit called “Object,” a group show on gender and objectification.

“We were strolling around and just came in,” said Beister. “The idea [of Illustration Week] is really cool.”

Illustration Week wraps up this Saturday. Find more information at the exhibition website. 

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