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Tsibi Geva

Cafiya 25, Israel, 1990

Mixed media on canvas, 240x178cm

Courtesy of the artist

Tzivi Geva is one of the outstanding Israeli artists since the 1980s. In his paintings Geva performs a double act on the cultural symbols related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: firstly he strips them of the day to day context in which they appear, and then he restores their concrete meaning through the collective unconscious.

The symbols in Tzivi’s paintings are drawn from every day objects and cultural signifiers fixed in public awareness, such as floor tiles, backgammon, a kefiah, flowers and birds. Geva uses these familiar symbols and opens them to new and varied readings, not necessarily tied to their immediate and conventional interpretation.

The objects drawn in Geva’s paintings are stripped of their natural colours and defining lines, and turn into a set of geometric shapes spread across the entire canvas. The kefiah in his work creates a partition in the shape of a decorative bar which directs the viewer to the hidden side of the piece. This stripping turns the trade mark of the kefiah into a thicket of bars, behind which no horizon of hope spreads to meet the gaze; it offers the metaphor of a freedom which went wrong.