For former Johannesburg businessman Myron Zaidel, making Aliyah was about much more than just packing up his life and his possessions.
“I wanted to create something of value, that was unique and transportable, in the international language of art,” explains Zaidel, who moved with his wife Shelley to Ir Yamim, Netanya in March 2021. After admiring the pointillist style of Cape Town-based artist Gavin Rain in a portrait of the Lubavitcher Rebbe created for Chabad in Johannesburg, Zaidel met the artist in 2019. They agreed on a twelve-month project to create portraits of Israel’s first twelve prime ministers – who are, themselves, just small dots on the canvas that makes up the Jewish people and the Zionist vision.
Rain is one of the world’s leading pointillist artists, painting with circles of color that merge to form an image when viewed from afar. “The art form itself was appealing to me – you can look at the picture many different ways and if you look at it the right way, you see the full picture” continues Zaidel.
Zaidel brought the twelve canvases with him to Israel, planning to exhibit them in honor of Israel’s 75th anniversary. A timely introduction to Rami Ozeri, founder and creative director of the Jerusalem Biennale which promotes contemporary art with Jewish content, sealed the deal. The exhibition, entitled Prime Ministers in Perspective, will be displayed from April 24 -7 May, in the Jerusalem Biennale gallery in the historic Sha’arei Tzedek Hospital.
While the multi-layered and multi-colored concentric circles on Rain’s canvas have intrinsic beauty and reflect the complexity of our lives, the full picture can only be appreciated when the viewer steps back. According to the artist, “Art is about creating a visual narrative. It is a metaphor for life – we should all step back to see the bigger picture, the people that help, guide and shape us.”
A 50-page coffee table book, with text in English, Hebrew and French, was created to accompany the exhibition and to make the collection more accessible. Double-sided color posters of the portraits, with explanations, will be available at nominal cost at the exhibition.
Zaidel has not only achieved his dream of living in Israel, but he will also make his own mark on Israel’s 75th anniversary celebrations, by sharing his personal collection with visitors and tourists to Jerusalem. And the next dream? “This is not a collection intended for a private home. I hope that one day, it will hang in a major institution in Israel.”
Prime Ministers in Perspective will be on view at the Biennale Gallery, 161 Jaffa Road, Jerusalem from 24 April – 7 May. Further information regarding opening times etc. at https://jerusalembiennale.org/ . Entrance free. On April 26, the gallery will host interactive art events for families, related entertainment, and speakers – all free of charge. Private tours and events at the gallery can be arranged for a fee: [email protected]
Gavin Rain at work. Credit Westly Lewis