The Meilahti Art Museum presents israeli contemporary art, a relatively unknown area in Finland, from 8 November 2003 to 15 February 2004. Although the country is caught up in a circle of violence, it produces also paintings that combine different, even antagonistic elements into beautiful works of art. The exhibition of paintings by Ido Bar-El is the first in a series of exhibitions at the Helsinki City Art Museum presenting male painters.
The Israeli painter Ido Bar-El (b. 1959) rose to fame in Israeli art circles in the early 1990s. With their wealth of visual allusions, Bar-El's work elicited almost violent responses among the younger generation, especially as the artist used as supports traffic and street signs, official plaques, even military helmets, thus extending the scope of his work beyond the self-enclosed world of painting, to even political compositions.
At the time of his rise to fame, Bar-El belonged to the young generation of Israeli artists who had at last made it to international art circles. Now Bar-El is almost a standard representative of his country in international exhibitions. In addition to Israel, his work has in recent years been seen in Berlin, Rome, New York, Săo Paulo Biennial, Belgium and the Netherlands. This year Bar-El was appointed head of the Department of Painting at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design. Despite the appointment he has not shed his characteristic attitude that combines idealism with cynicism and activism with aesthetism.
Ido Bar-El's paintings have in recent years become increasingly abstract, and the parallel presence of different materials has become increasingly liberated. The mediums seem to be able to do anything at all on the supports.
The 109 new works by Ido Bar-El presented for the first time in the exhibition attest to a virtuoso use of techniques. They have been painted on all sorts of flat supports ranging from washing machine covers to cupboard doors – and with the wildest imaginable mediums from house paints to ballpoint pens. Although Bar-El makes an almost manic effort not to repeat the established solutions of modern painting, or even himself, his works are ultimately characterised by beauty and elegance.
The exhibition is organised with generous support from the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education in Finland. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue produced in collaboration with the publishers Minerva Kustannus. The production of the catalogue is also supported by the Israel National Lottery and the Arthur Goldreich Trust.
The next exhibitions in the new series of male painters at the Helsinki City Art Museum will be by the Finnish painters Osmo Rauhala and Henry Wuorila-Stenberg.
Guided tours: Free guided tours are conducted in Finnish on Wednesdays at 5 pm and on Sundays at 2 pm; in Swedish on the 2nd Sunday of each month at 1 pm. To book tours at other times, call (09) 310 87003.