Recipients of the Shoshana and Mordechai Ish Shalom awards 2020: The Mordechaesi Ish Shalom Lifetime Achievement Awarnd is prented to Michael Kovner; The Shoshana Ish Shalom Art Award is preseted to Matia Oren « The Jerusalem Artists House – בית האמנים בירושלים

Recipients of the Shoshana and Mordechai Ish Shalom awards 2020: The Mordechaesi Ish Shalom Lifetime Achievement Awarnd is prented to Michael Kovner; The Shoshana Ish Shalom Art Award is preseted to Matia Oren

Recipients of the Shoshana and Mordechai Ish Shalom awards 2020:

The Mordechai Ish Shalom Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to Michael Kovner

The Shoshana Ish Shalom Art Award is presented to Matia Oren

Award ceremony will be held at the Jerusalem Artists’ House

Sunday, 1 March 2020, at 5:30 p.m.

Committee’s comments:

For over five decades, Michael Kovner has been documenting what he sees in painting—places where he lives and works, destinations to which he travels regularly, or ones which he revisits after a long absence. For many years he has depicted the landscapes of Jerusalem, where he lives; New York, where he worked; Gaza, Ashdod, and the Negev desert; Kibbutz Ein Hahoresh, where he grew up; etc. Kovner relies mainly on his eyesight, which he translates to paint on canvas in a near-documentary manner, yet filled with emotion and colorful intensity. His paintings do not beautify reality; they show it as is: rough, dirty, run down, or, alternatively, magnificent. The Israel portrayed in his works is not idyll as in landscapes by Reuven Rubin or Nahum Gutman, but the never ending, violent struggle, of which Kovner is fully aware, is not immediately made visible. Usually devoid of human figures, his landscapes truthfully represent the country’s charged loci: from Jerusalem’s sanctity and majesty, through Gaza’s houses, to his childhood scenes in the kibbutz and the legacy of pioneering work embedded in them. In the past decade Kovner has written and painted the graphic novel Ezekiel’s World, which was also adapted to the stage and performed at Jerusalem’s Khan Theater. Centered on the figure of his father, poet and organizer of the Vilna Ghetto uprising, Abba Kovner, the project blends reality and imagination, while introducing an original, magical combination of image and text.

For all these, the committee has found Michael Kovner worthy of the Mordechai Ish Shalom Lifetime Achievement Award.

Prize committee:

Amitai Mendelsohn, Ph.D., Senior Curator and Head of the Department of Israel Art, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem

Ms. Meirav Davish Ben Moshe, chair of the Jerusalem Artists Association

Ms. Zila Ish Shalom, representative of the Ish Shalom family

Committee’s comments:

Matia Oren‘s paintings convey a sincere, turbulent inner world. Her intense compositions lure viewers into a crowded “theater of characters,” enabling them to experience an inkling of the goings-on in the artist’s mind. Oren often depicts human figures whose actions, identities, and locations are unclear, but they nevertheless appear close and familiar. They captivate us with their expression as well as the spectacular color array comprising them. Using these figures, the artist constructs a complex world, overflowing, threatening, but at the same time compassionate, which illustrates the struggles and pains we face along the way. In the paintings, human confrontation and coping become an enchanting protagonist in the play taking shape on the canvas. Alongside the difficulties, however, one also senses a deep passion for beauty and authenticity manifested in the delicate facial features occasionally revealing themselves, and mainly in the coloration, which is vivid and expressive, yet at the same time harmonious and moving. Oren’s work does not require external views. Perhaps it does not require external viewers either. It is a brave internal dialogue which allows for soul searching.

For her profound, unique, and original expression, her daring and honesty, the committee has found Matia Oren worthy of the Shoshana Ish Shalom Art Award 2020.

Prize committee:

Ronit Sorek, Curator, Prints and Drawings, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem

Motta Brim

Adi Razel, representative of the Ish Shalom family