Mordecai Avniel's chronicles and art are fascinating, revealing a painter-jurist whose Zionist world view and involvement in the life of the Jewish community (Yishuv) in the country, from the early 1920s to the 1980s, were one and the same. This book unfolds, for the first time, yet unpublished historical documents from the Bezalel period, alongside documents attesting to Avniel's efforts as a delegate to the Zionist Congress, and original documents which enabled me to make corrections regarding his biography and practice to the finest detail.
Publication of the book coincides with the opening of the exhibition "Avniel from Bezalel" at Office in Tel Aviv Gallery. Striving to return the artist to the local exhibition scene, the show is an attempt to compensate, if only a little, for the absence of Avniel, who, together with his peers from that period, exemplifies the practice of Lyrical Abstract in Israeli art.
The book spans a representative selection of works—paintings from the Bezalel period alongside landscape paintings portraying the Sea of Galilee, Jerusalem, Haifa, the Galilee mountains and Safed—a modest sample that testifies to a rich oeuvre. The works follow a thematic, rather than a chronological, order. Dating is largely problematic since the artists of the period were not meticulous about dating their paintings in real time, and even in cases where the year was noted, that notification often faded over time.
The featured works were chosen from a selection of private collections; my heartfelt thanks to collectors: Illit Shtengel; Yoav Salomon; Yehoshua (Josh) Salomon; Noam Mualem Yosef; the family of Benzion and Cela Netanyahu; Beit Aba, the Aba Ahimeir Archive, Ramat Gan; Dan Birenboim.
1. Sarah Salomon in an interview with Reuven Pelz from his blog at TheMarker Caf? , 1 Nov. 2013 [Hebrew].