The Jerusalem Post
Making art accessible and affordable to all
When the coronavirus hit, the world shifted online, with Zoom becoming a staple in our daily lives and vocabulary. Art is often an expression of the times, and many artists and curators followed suit, moving their work onto the online sphere as well. Yet, the Internet and computers served as digital platforms for artists to share, promote and sell their work well before galleries closed their doors in response to the pandemic. Along with the digital era came digital art, and art has developed and shape-shifted through this modern medium. Digital art has been significantly on the rise in Israel in recent years, and as a result of the pandemic, has become more integral in people’s lives.
Four years ago, Brazilian immigrants Dada Strauss and Denis Maltz Bin launched Artichoke – an urban, affordable digital art gallery featuring digital painters, photographers and artists from around the world, but corona propelled their work forward as people began to spend more time in their homes. Dada, an artist who graduated from Tel Aviv University with a master’s degree in art, and Denis, an industrial and car designer who lived and worked in Italy before making aliyah, both grew up in the same hometown. As digital art gallery owners, they both witnessed the home become more of an anchor in Israelis’ lives throughout the course of the past year.
“The Israeli mentality toward the home changed a lot,” said Dada. “The culture in Israel is very fast-paced. Rent prices change, and Israelis change houses all the time. They think to themselves, ‘I don’t have to invest in something that isn’t mine in a place that I’ll only be in for a year.”
She added, “Before coronavirus, the house wasn’t the center and they didn’t invest in it. But the house is an important place. It’s where your family and friends are. The concept of making little changes to your home through a small plant, the lights, or the pictures – it’s new to Israeli culture.”
Denis chimed in to say, “In Italy, design is built into the culture. A lot of fashion, cars and manufacturing come from there, so people have more of a tendency to invest there. Brazil, too.
“During coronavirus, Israelis started investing more in their houses, and now that we’re coming out of corona, they are continuing to do so because they now know how important it is to go back to the same place every day, a place that represents whatever they want it to represent.”
Dada and Denis stressed that one of the gallery’s main values is to make high-quality art accessible and affordable to all. At the same time, they want to maintain a sense of exclusivity around the art they’re providing to their clients.
Digital art is the ideal medium to strike a balance between accessibility and exclusivity, as the art featured in the gallery cannot be shared as freely as the other images floating around the Internet. The copies that Dada and Denis produce of every artwork are limited. In this way, the artists get to keep their original work while the clients
WORKS FROM THE Artichoke – an urban, affordable digital art gallery featuring digital painters, photographers and artists.
get to enjoy limited art that they are unlikely to see anywhere else.
Digital art creation and consumption also connects artists from all over the world. Because of the digital medium, Artichoke is able to feature work from Brazilian, Indonesian and South Korean artists who never would have dreamed of selling their work in Israel. The desire for connection is naturally imbued within art itself, and evidently, connection is made simple when it comes to art in the digital age.
“THERE’S SOMETHING more young and modern about digital art, whereas something about oil and acrylics reminds me of something old and heavy,” said Rotem Maor, a full-time UX (“user experience”) designer and visual communications student whose artwork is featured in the gallery. She is also a digital illustrator who mainly draws women in strong, rich colors that pop out of the frame; the type of women that she aspires to emulate in her own life.
Rotem continued, “With all its abilities and effects, you can create amazing work through the digital platform – things and details you could only reach through digital mediums. Digital art is less binding, providing the ability to create, erase, create and erase without ruining everything with one mistake. In acrylic and oil painting,
you really have to commit to what you put on paper, but digital art is about trying new things and new colors. It’s an unlimited world, and I don’t like feeling limited.”
“I love being able to change what I’m working on while I’m working on it,” said Nas Shuhman, echoing Rotem’s sentiment about digital art being an unlimited form. Nas, whose minimalist art is also featured on Artichoke, is a full-time graphic designer who began digital illustration on the side two years ago but became more passionate about her art during the pandemic. Her artwork is inspired by photographs she has taken or seen on Instagram, her first illustration being inspired by her dog.
Nas highlighted how digital art has opened doors for new, unconventional artists. “I’m not good at drawing and illustrating with my hands. I’ve always worked digitally, so I’m way better when I’m using a computer.”
While Rotem described the digital art phenomenon as “young and modern,” patrons interested in digital art are of all ages. Because people in their 20s and 30s often move frequently, Dada and Denis originally expected their clients to fall into this younger demographic. However, they soon discovered that people in their 40s, 50s and 60s were also interested in purchasing art from their gallery.
“They’re also looking for something new
to refresh their environment,” said Dada.
Denis added, “This new demographic has already bought houses and is looking to add the finishing touches. They want to invest a little more in their homes. Instead of just buying one piece for the living room, they can decorate the whole house.”
In the spirit of the digital age, Dada and Denis create simulations for their clients, in which they could either visit the studio or send in photos of their homes in order to see how particular artwork would look on their walls.
“There are a lot of people that don’t know what they want or how to match,” explained Dada. “We know art, and we know what fits.”
Artichoke Gallery is one among many digital art projects popping up in Israel as digital art begins to spread on a global scale. In the midst of the pandemic, artists and partners Tamir Erlich and Noy Haimovitz launched Bidud (“Quarantine” in Hebrew), an online art residency that features the wide-ranging work of Israeli artists, writers, curators and academics. Last July, Erlich told Culture Trip magazine that Bidud was “a platform that brings individuals together as a result of the change of time and space we are experiencing.”
Culture Trip also reported that when COVID hit, Inga Gallery of Contemporary Art, which has been well-established in
Israel for 15 years, authorized the digitalization of an exhibition that was originally meant to be experienced in person. This was the gallery’s first online exhibition. On the other hand, Holon’s Israeli Center for Digital Art, a nonprofit organization supported by the municipality, was established as early as 2001 in an abandoned school building in the city’s industrial area. According to the center’s website, it has since expanded significantly to concentrate on five main areas: the video archive, public presentations, the residency program, publications and education.
“Digital art is still at its beginnings, but slowly, slowly, it’s starting to find its place,” Rotem told The Jerusalem Post.
Now that Israelis are returning to their routine lives, Dada and Denis want the public to immerse themselves in the digital art world by visiting their studio, which is also manned by Brazilian immigrant Philip Zucker, South African immigrant Mia Hancock, and Argentinian immigrant Yasmin Luna Roffé.
“It’s fun. We weren’t looking for other
olim [immigrants], but this is just how it happened. It’s kind of a kibbutz galuyot” [a community of exiles], laughed Dada.
The Artichoke Gallery can be visited by appointment at Arlozorov St. 68, Tel Aviv, or online at artichoke.store. For more information, call (058) 552-2835.