Eric Eliahou Bokobza
Curator: Dvora Liss
December 2012-May 2013
Eric Eliahou Bokobza was born in Paris and arrived in Israel at the age of six. His parents were born in Tunisia and raised him in a home that was filled with French and Tunisian culture. Eric Eliahou Bokobza studied pharmaceutical studies at Hebrew University and in 1999 completed his art studies while working as a pharmacist. For 20 years he owned his own pharmacy in Tel Aviv and then decided to sell his store and fully devote himself to his art. Eric Eliahou Bokobza has shown his work all over Israel, incorporating local ideas of Zionism and “Mizrahism”. His vibrantly colorful and humorous paintings reflect on his own complicated French, Tunisian, Jewish and Israeli identity. The exhibition “Nationality: Jewish” is exhibited in the Judaica wing of the museum. Bokobza’s works chosen for the show include symbols and motifs of Jewish content. Images that appear in the exhibition include: The Tomb of Rachel, Tower of David, Jerusalem, The “evil eye”, the map of Israel, the holiday symbols, and portraits of famous Rabbis. His works are displayed side by side with the artifacts of the permanent collection of Judaica, thus creating a dialogue between the two. The early 20th century “Chanukiah” from Baghdad is displayed close to the painting “tempo” depicting the legendary Rav Kadouri, originally from Baghdad, standing next to a youth, dressed in punk fashion. This work portrays the diametric distinction of past and present, East and West, Religion and Secularism. The 19th century Chanukiah from Poland ornamented with date palms symbolizing the diasporic Jew’s longing for Israel, placed near the painting of Eric as a young boy on his first Yom Haatzmaut in Israel, reflecting the feeling of “other” while standing in the lush foliage of an Israeli landscape.
The show is situated in the Judaica wing, the museum’s only permanent exhibition space. The Museum’s founders considered Jewish ceremonial objects integral to the museum collection and looked to Jewish tradition as a foundation for the new Israeli culture which they wished to create. The Oriental Naïve fresh and colorful paintings of Eric Eliahou Bokobza integrate secularism and belief, East and West, Old and New, local and strange and they find their place amongst the Judaica artifacts in the exhibition space.