Elie Shamir

The Rice Eaters, Israel, 2003

Oil on canvas

Eli Shamir returns to the landscapes of his homeland, exhibiting his substitute for the myth of "Hebrew laborer" in the shape of the "Rice Eaters", or maybe a variation to the "Potato Eaters" of Van-Goch from 1885.

Shamir makes no concessions to our collective memory as it progressively deletes the image of those who built and reconstructed this country. They survive only in songs and memories fading from the view of the new generation.

In his work, the laborers of that generation of pioneers – simple in dress and pure of heart – are replaced by a new reality; foreign workers coming from afar to make the land bloom and build it for us.

The comparison we are required to draw in this work evokes reflection on the place of the worker coming from amongst us, the essence of the moral force motivating us in the land where we have chosen to live.

The artist has no criticism of the images he has painted; they are modestly introspective but beyond any doubt, their presence serves us as a reminder of the workers of this country who have vanished and are no longer with us.