The exhibition The New Barbizon: Back to Life displays most of the artworks of
The New Barbizon group – Zoya Cherkassky-Nnadi, Olga Kundina, Natalia Zourabova, Asia Lukin and Anna Lukashevsky. Since these artists began working together six years ago, they have positioned themselves having a unique artistic status offering a new panoramic perspective on Israeli reality. The attempt to map the subject matter of The New Barbizon sheds light on a broad range of sights and landscapes: residential areas and everyday life, including the Neve Sha’anan neighborhood, the central bus station, and Rabin Square in Tel Aviv; downtown Haifa; the alleys of Jerusalem and neighborhoods in Rosh Pinna; remote towns and villages such as Rahat and Hura in the Negev, the Bedouin Market in Beer sheba, and Kibbutzim Bar’am and Ein Harod in the north of Israel; European cities such as Moscow, St. Petersburg, Berlin, Dresden, Paris and London; as well as leitmotifs such as women, portraits, and still lifes. The variety of techniques in which those themes are depicted – oil, graphite, tempera, gouache, pencil and markers on canvas or paper – allows the group members to present a multifaceted expression of the same site or event space.
This exhibition provides a comprehensive overview on these artists’ work, both individually and collectively. It is grounded in each artist’s world, shaped out of profound layers of Russian culture on the one hand, and dilemmas related to their identity and adaptation to their new home. As a group, they address painterly questions by leaving the studio together for ‘contemplative painting’ in the spirit of the late 19th-century en plein air (open-air) painting tradition. For them, this is the preferable artistic option, as it reflects the relations between place and time and produces the ‘painterly moment’ or the ‘free-hand’ painting, as they put it. Applying the ‘contemplative painting’ approach within the local art scene gains validity by also offering a connection between artistic traditions and contemporary painting, between European culture and the Israeli quotidian experience.