As spectators and participants of Jerusalem’s contemporary art world—enthusiasts, visitors, writers, curators, critics, artists, gallerists, etc.— it is our job to contemplate and justify the works of art that we see in local galleries, exhibitions, museums and studios. But it is a separate task, and it is an important one, to develop an understanding of the professional personalities behind this work.
This is the motivation behind CAIJ’s latest project, The Studio Visit Series, a series of intimate interviews and photographs documenting studio and curatorial visits with local professionals in the arts.
We hope that this ongoing series will detach from offering an explanation of art based on the personalities, but rather challenge our audiences to open their curiosity and focus on the professional motivation and accomplishments of those who are contributing to Jerusalem’s contemporary art scene!
Our first visit is with Ayala Landow in her studio at the New Gallery in Teddy Stadium, where the artist has been working for the past 6 years. Landow (b. 1982) lives and works in Jerusalem, and she was born and raised in the city.
Landow has a vibrant presence in Jerusalem’s art scene—almost anyone here will tell you this!—and a contagious spirit that can only be contained through art. The artist has exhibited in international group shows (Germany, Scotland, in various shows in Israel (Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa) and has held solo shows in a number of galleries in Jerusalem.
The artist is one with her profession, one with her family, and one with the city. Working as an artist in Jerusalem is no easy feat; most artists in Israel who graduate from Bezalel aim to live and work in Tel Aviv, otherwise outside of the country, in order to develop their professional careers. But when asked about working in the Jerusalem, Landow tells CAIJ, “I love it, I would never imagine working somewhere else. I was born and raised here, and I’m going to die here. I have a bug for Jerusalem, and with my art—everything is the same”.
Since she was a child, Landow has been fixated on materials and the potential for creating—she describes an incident when she was young and broke into her elementary school classroom during recess to get what she describes as “a piece of paper that she could not stop thinking about”. Young Landow applied to a special arts High School and was denied entry, but this instance was the impetus for persistence, and it was then that she started studying art with a private teacher who was “a big influence on the way that I see art. And that was when I decided that I can’t live without it (art)”.
The artist received both her BFA and MFA from the Bezalel Academy (with an exchange at the Slade School of Art in London. This was her time to explore, and these years of experience took Landow out of out of her comfort zone—she shifted her work and approach to art while she was studying.
Entering Landow’s studio, we were surrounded by a deluge of color, materials, works-in-progress and music. It is so evident that this is a sanctuary for the artist, and perhaps her favorite place to be in the world. “When I come into the studio, it is my own space. I turn on music and dance. This get’s me to work and concentrate.”
Landow’s work, like her studio, is full of surprises—something one would describe as a balance between absurdity and innocence. Omnivorously dealing with sculpture, material, tapestries, painting and installation—the artist looks at her profession as a process. “It depends on what you do with it, everything is a process. Part of my motivation for making art is to find the essence in everything, I want one answer.”
Looking towards the future, Landow continues to grow and experiment, the artist is working on a project where she will build her own enchanted mythology, based on images from Medieval Art. The artist aims to have a solo show outside of Jerusalem, perhaps Tel Aviv or Herzliya is next, and she is currently looking into a few international residencies and collaborations with artists in Israel.
Landow will exhibit in the upcoming show, The Only Weapon I Have is the Quill Pen, opening Saturday, December 30th at The Hansen House.
Photos by Deborah N Production. Text by Jenna Romano.