Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Israel’s largest art fair is hosting a dynamic and immense conglomerate of exhibitions, vibrant with all different art mediums, topics, and sources.
From professionals to the general public, all are invited to explore the plethora of fantastical works by deeply talented and innovative artists, through tons of local and international professional exhibits, young artist exhibitions, design showcases with products for sale, and interactive performances.
This year, the festival is broken down into three large buildings at Tel Aviv Fairgrounds: Fresh Design (creative home design), Art Projects (special art installations and gallery showcases), and Greenhouse (young artist exhibits).
Visitors can spot each building by their colorful murals, commissioned by Fresh Paint as a gift to the fairgrounds. This permanent exhibit is now the largest work of art in Tel Aviv, covering 1,700 square meters, and conveys a message of hope and freedom.
The Fresh Design building is filled with an expansive stylistic range of brilliantly creative home design pieces. Throughout the room, light beams from under wavy sheets of rich wood, minimalistic long black metal rods horizontally overhead, bulbs in tinted glass cocoons covered in purple glass mushrooms, vibrantly colorful upcycled plastic, whimsical ceramic hanging fixtures, and in fun shapes projected back onto the wall.
Many of the local studios featured are new within the past decade or so and run by graduates or faculty members of Israel’s top design schools. A handful of their innovative themes include cheerful ceramics fused into retro chic furniture, creating curvy wooden furnishings and bags out of thin-cut flexible wooden strips, everything from flower pots to rugs made from recycled tire rubber, integrating nature (herbs and succulents) into furniture, intricate hand-woven felt room dividers, and a collection of a year’s food consumption casted in plaster.
With its astute concept and live attraction, the exhibition of upcycled disposable plastic bags is a personal favorite. The artists originally posted on Facebook asking people to bring their household’s used plastic bags, (the type you get with every single purchase in Israel), and were blown away with massive amounts of material. Then right before the fair patrons’ eyes, the artists demonstrate the fun of melting and condensing the bags into new fabrics over a steel plate. Ultimately, they’re shaped them into sturdy new accessories decorated with bright multi-colored textures. (Pictured above)
One fascinating eco-innovative exhibit features unique technology developed in Holon, creating a material with the strength of concrete with only 5% of the energy, solely made out of earth and vegetable fibers. Without ever changing the matter’s chemical structure, the decorative tiles are 100% biodegradable; you could feed them back to your garden and achieve a completely clean circular economy, sustaining humanity on earth forever.
In between the Israeli design studio exhibitions, there are also some projects of international collaboration, like a Danish birthday table. Celebrating Fresh Paint’s 10th birthday, Danish designers reflected their cozy cultural aesthetic and elegant birthday customs through a large table spread of traditional Danish handcrafts beside Norwegian stools.
Next in the Greenhouse building takes visitors on an artfully curated journey through 48 dynamically distinct mini serieses by Israel’s most talented young artists. Every type of visual medium is perfectly scattered through the giant room, giving each series the unique attention it deserves and allowing visitors to wander from classically inspired paintings, to yarn sculptures, to vibrant photographic portraits, to abstract multimedia pieces. Mostly in their late 20s and 30s, the up-and-coming artists will be present at the fair’s opening but will create a space for visitors to take their own adventure through the art. There will be representatives from Fresh Paint to discuss the works upon request, explaining each artists reaction to life experience or politics, use of different materials and influences, or answer any questions.
Don’t miss Lilac Madar’s alluring and eccentric magnified postage stamps. She collected funky stamps from around the world, including many extraordinary findings like pornographic postage from Arab countries. After making them even more eclectic with her own creative flourishes, she positions them in front of magnified glass allowing visitors to take in every wonderfully bizarre little detail.
Finally the Art Projects building exhibits Israel’s leading and most intriguing professional artists as well as international artists. The first main room showcases individual works, usually accompanied by a written description or the artist his or herself. Nextdoor, a second huge room is filled with features from 30 different art galleries around Israel. Throughout, members of the political performance group Protective Edge will walk around in elegant clothes offering visitors concrete sculptures of kneeling detainees on a metal platter.
Right as visitors enter the main room, they encounter Rotem Ritov’s Monarch Migration #3- Biotopia: Gaza. At first the diorama looks fantastical with rich brown soil and colorful butterflies. But the work is “beckoning us to ride the rollercoaster that takes us between displays of magical beauty and the discovery of a bloated corpse,” symbolizing the story of Israeli-Palestinian relations. The gaza-shaped installation’s rich soil is run by a tank print, and the butterflies are made out of tanks and helicopters from 2007-2017 war debris.
Yochi Shrem’s Human Tapestry will surely catch each visitors eye, with a giant undulating sea of rainbow crochet body parts. The site-specific installation refers to what’s within, physically and metaphorically. The nearly hundred handmade crochet forms replicate DNA, veins, chromosomes, neurons, etc in a extravagant diversity of colors and textures. Shrem explains that our society, fixated on metal, machines, and the digital world, doesn’t appreciate colors or the feelings they represent. Her piece airs the human flow of electricity, moving emotions inside us, especially as the dynamic spread of colorful innards gently breathes, stirring a thoroughly trippy feeling.
Fresh Paint’s annual social project, The Secret Postcard, will offer over 1,000 original postcard-size artworks this year in the Art Projects building. By renowned artists as well as students, each postcard sells anonymously for a uniform price of NIS 180, buyers only to discover the artist’s identity after purchasing. All the proceeds go to art education grants for Tel Aviv’s underprivileged children, funding 600 students over the past nine years.
If there’s one last exhibit visitors must be sure to check out this year, its I Infinite. Part dance performance, part video installation, part audience participatory light show, part journey into a mesmerizing alien realm, the experience is hypnotizing, eerie, and enthralling. Visitors put on a gray robe, take off their shoes, and walk into a white cube space where they’re free to roam, sit or stand wherever they choose. Meanwhile, projectors are set up at different angles projecting images or streams of light interacting with the dancer and everyone’s shadows in the most outlandish ways. Meditating on the digital world’s quest to re-create life, British contemporary artist Tom Dale uses special effects beyond the imagination to make audience members feel as though they’ve been transported into another dimension.
Fresh Paint is taking place at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds this year, opening Thursday April 26th from 20:30 to 23:00, Friday April 27th from 10:00 to 18:00, Saturday from 10:00 to 21:00, and Sunday and Monday from 17:00 to 22:00. Tickets are NIS 50 and can be purchased here or at the door.