Always Painting- A Retrospective: Elisha Benowitz

Curator: Vera Pilpoul and Arie Berkowitz
Saturday 06.04.2024 10:00 - Saturday 27.04.2024 14:00

A retrospective exhibition by the artist Elisha Benowitz encompasses fifty years of painting, sketching, illustrating, and collage. Benowitz’s first solo exhibition was showcased a few months before the Yom Kipur war began. The war robbed him of his desire to exhibit his work; he didn’t stop painting and sketching, but made a living as a graphic designer.

Now, after the curators Pilpoul and Berkowitz got acquainted with his work, they are exhibited in the Artists House Tel Aviv and presented in a 120 pages catalogue. His works address themes such as man’s affinity with his native landscape and his family, the complexity of this affinity and the simple love which is embodied in it.

Benowitz was born and raised in kibbutz Ramat Hashofet. His childhood landscapes in particular as well as Israeli landscapes in general, have left a deep mark  on his heart and resonates in his work: the figures merge with the landscape, craving life and love in the face of geopolitical complexity. many of his abstract paintings allude to hills and bare land; a landscape characteristic of the kibbutz environment. Inspite leaving the place to live elsewhere, this natural habitat is imprinted on the canvas time and again, an sketched manifestation which is the DNA of his work.

Benowitz studied at the Midrasha Leomanot (The Art Collage) in the sixties; Rafi Lavi was one of his teachers. He developed a personal style which manifested itself in his illustrations and collages, which depict human figures and their relationships, and in paintings, which are both  abstract and concrete- evoking familiar landscapes. His compositions and his artistic language make use of  tachisme, a style characterized by intensive outbursts of color and linear calligraphic markings which move into  to the realms of *lyrical abstract. In many of his *drawings Benowitz combines indicators of a specific landscape which is also every space- the type of landscape that touches upon fantasy, emotion, and the poetic. The paintings are dynamic, featuring rhythmic repetitive  brush stippling. Color placement creates patches and shapes which irrupt in an asymmetrical composition.

Benowitz’s abstraction indicates a division of the canvas into geometrical forms and a composition of colors and patches creating a multi-colored musical index. Native landscapes make their way into the work often depicted from above as patches of  farmland, runways, or urban formations such as highways and tumultuous cities.


Some of the works depict fantastical dream like scenes of hovering and flight, most often couples in midair or a child gliding dangerously heading toward a hamlet or a kibutz.

Comical archetypic human figures appear in Benowitz’s sketches and illustrations. These figures have big bodies and lean limbs. Swift sketches of *linear figures fill the canvas, carrying on with their familial daily routines; they come to life in a somewhat grotesque manner – a      fantasized human comedy. The figures are sketched minimally, occasionally men and women in the nude move around in an unspecified surroundings, detached, hovering above the ground. These animated drawings and dynamic figures are the epitome of freedom- freedom to live, to do, and to love. In his collages Benowitz combines illustration with sketch, drawing and abstract painting. Magazine cllipings, maps, extracts from articles, single words, single letters and lines across the canvas, create a composition which alludes to the autobiographical, highlights localism and casts an ironic eye on reality.

Benowitz’s work takes us on a personal journey which turns into a universal one, a journey of fantasy, aspiration, passion, and imagination -a canopy above the mundane.

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