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Sitting around at the Tel Aviv art museum

My photo for the 52Frames Chair photo challenge

I recently had to go into the city for a meeting but just before my train reached my stop, the meeting was unexpectedly cancelled…! Of course I wrote about the entire incident and how miserable I felt that cloudy winter afternoon with ice-cold winds whipping through the tall buildings... (yes, I can be a bit of a drama queen sometimes). But let me rather tell you what I did with my unexpected free afternoon in Tel Aviv.

It was too cold to hang out at the beach or Carmel market, I was not in a mall-shopping mood and did not feel either like exploring the old buildings of the newly-renovated Sarona complex. But also, I was WITHOUT my husband and children and the art lover in me quickly made the equation:

Free time + city - husband and children = Museum TIME!!

I love the Tel Aviv art museum, so I made my way over there, paid my entrance fee and started to explore. They have a couple of permanent exhibitions with paintings that I consider long-time friends but there are also these changing (shall I say ‘weird’ exhibitions) with more contemporary art works. I have always thought that these changing exhibitions are really cool and an important part of the creativity and inspiration of the museum.

This time however,  they did not impress me at all. The new stuff was not ‘cool weird’ at all, just ‘weird weird’. It was the type of stuff that makes my husband and children consider the art museum to be boring. They even had this entire interactive exhibition about selfies! Yes, eww, can you believe it  - selfies as art!! 

But okay, whatever, we do not all have the same taste in art. It is not fair of me to expect to like every single thing in the museum. I should also not project my winter blues on the artists’ work but rather open myself to what is on offer....
To calm my soul, I went to say hello to the Picassos, the van Goghs, the Degas and the Marc Chagalls. As always, they were totally brilliant. 

Just standing for a minute or so in front of one of these paintings I start to feel the pull of the artist who painted it. 

The same eyes that are staring at me standing in an art museum in Tel Aviv, Israel in the year 2016 on a winter’s day are the eyes that stared at Vincent van Gogh as he painted them in Saint-Rémy, France in 1889.
The amazing colours in these paintings, a slope of the neck, the play of shadows, a stance or a certain look all seem to send me a personal message from the artist itself. I  often do not ‘get’ the message, and usually it is enough for me to just realize that there IS a message. It is as if I enter into a type of time travel in tandem with the artist. I start from an art museum in Tel Aviv in 2016 and the artist go from France, Russia or wherever in the past and then we meet and make a connection.

Other times the message is like a virtual poem that you slowly solve the more you think about it and 'make' it your own.

I know this is all very obscure and weird and ‘arty-farty’ but hold on because this time I got a clear message from van Gogh!
I was so enchanted by the his Shepherdes painting that I wanted to take a photo to mull over its meaning a bit more later on. And because there are guards sprinkled throughout the museum I thought it best to ask if I can take a photo.
“Yes”, I got a laconic answer from the nearest guard and then as an afterthought “just don’t use a flash”.
Her yes was just so abrupt and yet seemed to say so much. It was a yes full of irony as well as sarcasm. Her tone implied that I can take all the photos that I want but there is just no way that I will ever decipher Van Gogh’s messages or ever be half the artist that he was. It is as if she knew about the messages and also that I will never ‘get’ it.

The van Gogh's painting that started the whole thing.
As often it is the case with us humans, the messenger seem to became to message. Because of HOW she said yes, I started to focus on ALL of the guards throughout the museum. Though they silently walked around every once in awhile, most of them would sit quietly in a chair in an unobtrusive corner.

Nearly all of them are female and Russian and they have a certain distant demeanor about them. 

They are not sullen but they do not invite a chat either. It is as though they have been made especially for this job. Your average Israeli would either be chatting loudly to everybody out of sheer boredom or argue to management about the placement of the paintings.

As fate would have it, the theme this week for my photo group’s weekly challenge is “ A Chair”. 

This, together with the fact that I just did not really connect with the temporary exhibitions and that I started to SEE the guards, made me skulk throughout the museum spying on the guards and taking photos of them on their chairs.
Stalking the watcher
I had to switch off the sound on my cellphone and a few times I was nearly caught photographing the sitting guards. Luckily the museum has tons of pillars and walls in the middle of open halls to take cover from. As I enjoyed my unexpected interactive tour throughout the art museum it suddenly popped into my mind what van Gogh was trying to tell me this time:
Art is often unusual and often found in unexpected places.
So the next time you are in a museum or any other odd place, have a look around. Maybe the art is boring this time but they have really beautiful bathrooms tiles, or there are some really cool stuff in the museum shop. And maybe you will not get to see inspiring art this time but you will meet some awesome people. Who knows, they might even be the security guards!

Art is often found in quiet and unusual places
Here is a link to the Tel-Aviv art museum, I promise that the exhibitions are usually great..okay, 90% of the time!

And here is a link to the Chair photo album that my photo group has created: 52Frames

Two more Chairs at the art museum photos, though this time without guards.

Get a letter from Israel by signing up to my e-mail list at the top right corner. I HATE spam and promise to never send any.
March 2016, Zichron Yaakov


  1. Love it :)

    I'm just surprised she even let you take the picture in the first place, I remember them as really strict and unrelenting on the no-photos-policy.


    1. Thanks Framentage:)
      Maybe they got a new policy now that everyone walks around with cellphone cameras..?

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