On Tuesday, the works of a group of six artists from Har Hebron went on display at the small art gallery at the President’s Residence.
The exhibition area is in the conference room and in the corridor outside it. The conference room is used by members of the president’s staff and by representatives of various government ministries who have business at the President’s Residence. The area is off limits to the general public.
Accompanied by Har Hebron Regional Council head Yochay Dimri, fellow artists and relatives, the artists met earlier in the day with President Reuven Rivlin and his wife, Nechama, in another part of the building where their works were placed as part of a sample showing.
Nechama Rivlin, the art expert in her family, talked with each of the artists – Ayelet Pollak, Oded Ben Moshe, Ruth Ventura, Ruth Ariel, Didi Khalifa and Nurit Gazit – about style, media and subject matter.
Gazit said that the only previous occasion she had been to the President’s Residence was many years ago as a soldier working in education during the tenure of president Yitzhak Navon. She had never dreamed at that time that she would return as an artist.
The president followed his wife from easel to easel. At the last one, which was a skyscape photograph on canvas, the artist, Ben Moshe, told Rivlin that he had become enamored with this medium because he was fascinated by the different shades of blue in the Hebron sky. “There’s no other sky like it in Israel,” he said.
At the outset of the meeting, Rivlin said that when meeting people from the settlement community, it was natural to think of them as settlers, but settlers, he said, are essentially like anyone else and their art is influenced by joy and sadness and the events around them and, of course, their environment.
Har Hebron artists, he emphasized, have to be seen first and foremost as artists, before they are perceived in any other context – “because art is universal.”
Aware that the landscape paintings all reflected the Har Hebron region, Rivlin said that over the centuries, many people from any number of backgrounds and affiliations had painted Jerusalem. Just as Jerusalem has been portrayed through the eyes of its beholders, so too is Hebron, he said, adding that he was very pleased to host artists from a place so important in Jewish history.
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