“Avigdor Arikha: In-Between”- Works from the Doron Sebbag Art Collection, ORS Ltd
Dwek Gallery, Mishkenot Sha’ananim, Jerusalem, as part of the International Writers Festival, 2022
May – September 2022
The bonds formed between art collectors and the artists whose works they persistently acquire have produced, throughout the history of art, a fruitful discourse, often charged, and at the same time inspiring and thought-provoking, yielding texts, exhibitions, and publications. When art collector Doron Sebbag talks about his encounter with artist Avigdor Arikha (1929–2010), one can sense an excitement, reserved for unique meetings between a collector and an artist whom he holds in high esteem and collects over many years.
The relationship between the two began in the early 1990s, on a trip to Paris, which Sebbag took on behalf of Tel Aviv Museum of Art, along with leading Israeli curator and art critic, Yona Fischer, a dear friend of Arikha, who passed away this year.Sebbag describes the repeated meetings with Arikha since then –meetings that attest to a close and honest connection, founded on deep appreciation for his art and the creative and poetic process that characterized it – as fascinating and unforgettable: We met whenever I went to Paris. We had dinners with him and Anne, sat at home for hours, looked at his works and talked about art and music.
He loved classical music and was a fascinating Renaissance man. When I wrote my thesis on Edgar Degas,I identified a similarity between the two, because Arikha’s return from abstract painting to realism was due to the closeness he felt for the Old Masters, for painting en plein air. Arikha insisted that I observe his works only when daylight flooded the studio, and not at other times. Back then he lived and worked in Paris, hungry for French culture, but his heart was always in Israel. He read Haaretz daily and was frequently updated on what was happening in the country.
The works on view at Dwek Gallery, Mishkenot Sha’ananim, were selected from the Doron Sebbag Art Collection, ORS Ltd, as a cluster that crosses periods, countries, styles, and techniques, indicating the long-standing relationship between the two.
Arikha engaged mainly in painting and illustrated many books with whose literary texts he identified (including S.Y. Agnon’s novel Only Yesterday, H.N. Bialik’s writings, etc). The exhibition features paintings, drawings, and lithographs by Arikha, including self-portraits, portraits of close friends and cultural figures with whom he was in contact (e.g. Samuel Beckett, Yona Fischer and portraits of his wife, American poet Anne Atik Arikha (1932–2021), whom he often depicted in a realistic style and from a distant point of view.
Showcased alongside these are paintings and drawings of landscapes in Tel Aviv, Paris, and Jerusalempp. the cities between which Arikha divided his time. Arikha was acquainted with many writers and poets, including Irish writer and dramatist Samuel Beckett (1906–1989), who was a close friend, and whose portrait he depicted several times. The longtime friendship between Arikha and Beckett was mutually enriching: Beckett wrote texts for books about Arikha, and Arikha, in turn, contributed drawings and prints to his friend’s plays and novels.