Elie Shamir | Kfar Yehoshua
Curator: Ron Bartos
Installations Shots: Liat Elbling
In 2008 Elie Shamir painted the work The Square in Kfar Yehoshua. It depicts the center of the square where, against the background of the red roof of the community center, stand the memorial statue to the fallen in the War of Independence, a monument by the sculptress Batya Lishansky, and the unique water tower – two of the emblems of Kfar Yehoshua. This painting exemplifies the entire oeuvre of Shamir by dint of the two histories that have nourished it.
The first is the local history of Kfar Yehoshua and, from a wider aspect, of the Jezre’el Valley and the State of Israel. The second is the artistic history, namely the history of art. And here in this work appears the omphalos of Kfar Yehoshua – the “Shamirian place” – which, as far as the artist is concerned, is like an omphalos of the world. Not in vain did Shamir give his article on the design of the village the title “All Roads Lead to Kfar Yehoshua”.
There, opposite the water tower, the statue by Lishansky was erected in 1953 (also the year the painter was born). It was in the nature of an appropriate expression of the two-histories idea in the works of Shamir: the sculpture is a monument dedicated to the memory of the fallen sons of Kfar Yehoshua as well as a monument to the War of Independence – an incomparably significant all-Israeli event. It bears witness to those same sons, as Dr.
Claire Lachmann described the statue: “The figures spring up by the power of despair to defend, to save, to sacrifice their lives if necessary, in order to prevent destruction and to found a world where only good exists. These values of man and place are embodied in works of art as a link in the history of Israeli art that found its way into the artwork of Shamir, where it is entrenched like an omphalos stone planted in the village.
If that rings true, then in Shamir’s work this depends on that – the Jezre’eli-Israeli history and the history of art are not separate entities but are rather integrated within each other and seemingly become of one piece. Consequently, any reading of his work obliges one to consider both of them. The term history comprises the words his and story, which together testify to the personal component of historiography, to the presence of the subjective author. If you will, the dual-path history of Elie Shamir’s artwork is his story.