The Lumberjack’s Compassion
March - August, 2020
Curator: Nava T. Barazani
Umm El- Fahem Art Gallery
Curatorial text: Nava T. Barazani
In a conversation with me in July 2019, Raafat Hattab spoke of processes. In his rhythmic tone of voice, I detect walking—lively and responsive walking on the one hand, accommodative walking, quiet and even tentative walking on the other. There’s something very spiritual about Hattab’s walking but also an element of practical, concrete searching. Now and then he sends me images of objects that have congregated around him by dint of his gaze and notes the importance of being aware of his surroundings. These objects, the gifts of existence, show Hattab that he is attuned, in his role as an artist, to what happens and what exists—exactly as Maurice Merleau-Ponty writes: “An artist’s vision learns only by seeing […].”1
Hattab’s non-random randomness is captured in the intensive practice of his craft, in which he scavenges and snares events wherever they occur: in an object, a word, a song or a thought. Once he gathers up the objects encountered in his journey, he allows them to do as they please and circulates among them: “I decode these things as indictors, I surrender to them, respond to them.” I join the walk and stroll along, following Hattab but not always managing to see the figure who strides ahead of me, steadily becoming blurred.
After years of toil in the field of art, Hattab still questions his role as an artist and asks why he makes art. In a book that he’s reading about Sufi mysticism, he encounters a dialogue among birds that’s managed by a hoopoe, the leader of the birds, who proposes that those assembled set out on a spiritual journey in search of the mythical bird Simorgh. This hoopoe, who wishes to lead the birds on a journey that will refine their vision and their gaze, appears to be one of the answers to Hattab’s questions about the role of an artist.
Just as I feel that I have managed to see Hattab’s journey and am gaining a few steps on him, he tells me that we’ve come to a fork in the road. The Lumberjack’s Compassion, he adds, “is another point in an endless journey of a process that’s meant by its nature to continue.”
1 Maurice Merleau-Ponty, “Eye and Mind,” The Primacy of Perception,. James E. Edie (ed.), trans. Carleton Dallery. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1964, p. 165.
The Lumberjack’s Compassion
August 29, 2020
Curator: Nava T. Barazani
Art Gallery Umm El- Fahem
Ordinary consciousness, based on memory and the past, representing matter, metamorphosis into a less material consciousness - the luminous one.
According to nearly all Hermetic, metaphysical traditions (Sufism, Zen Buddhism,Taoism, Quabbala, Shamanism, Tantra, Rosicrucians...) - the third level of Consciousness is the one who is in complete immersion with Everything.
The artist , Raafat Hattab, is a dedicated learner of Hermetic Spirituality.
Thus, he expresses his ideas and emotions via Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Shamanic symbolism, which are all inter-related.
At the peak, the immersed Eagle Consciousness is able to explore the non definable and unlimited Unknown.
At the peak, the querent of Wisdom, adventurously walks through the up and low waves of Cosmic Reality, with Attention, good intentions and deeds, awe and utter Respect towards the Ever Mysterious Realms, equally palpable in each sub-atom.
Out of place
Joint exhibition with artist Adi Oz-Ari
Lobby Art Gallery, Tel-Aviv, 2019
Curators: Leor Grady and Orit Mor
The exhibition “Out of place” is the first collaboration between Adi Oz-Ari and Raafat Hattab since they first met during their MFA studies at Bezalel-Academy of Art and Design in 2013. The two shared a studio during their postgraduate studies, and working in a joint space led to a dialogue between the two, despite the great differences in each one’s approach to art and to their mediums.
Since then, they have continued to work side by side, conducting a dialogue on the place of art and its function in the complex reality of life in Israel.
In the current duo show, the point of origin for the two artists’ works is the geographical location of the Lobby Artspace: Arlosoroff Street, Tel Aviv. The works refer to the local history and events that took place in the environs of the exhibition site.
In 1902, the cholera epidemic that spread from Egypt struck Jaffa. The Ottoman authorities forbade burial of the victims in cemeteries in the heart of the residential area of Jaffa, which is why residents were forced to establish new cemeteries at a distance from the city. The Muslim residents founded the Abd el-Nabi cemetery, known as the Muslim Cemetery, located in what is now Gan Ha’atzmaut – Tel Aviv’s Independence Park, west of the Gallery.
At the foot of the cemetery located above the sandstone cliff, stands a memorial to Dr. Haim Arlosoroff who was assassinated in 1933. The murder, which aroused a huge storm in the pre-state Jewish community, remained unsolved, exposing the internal tensions in the Yishuv about the character and identity of the state in inception. Arlosoroff was interred in the cemetery on Trumpeldor Street, founded by the Jewish residents of Jaffa to keep the victims of the cholera epidemic at a distance.
The cemeteries embody political content intertwined with the narrative of the development of the city of Tel Aviv, providing additional roots for the continuing tension between the two cities of Tel Aviv and Jaffa.
Oz-Ari invites viewers to stop and reflect upon the Israeli visual code. Objects such as military berets or the blue cover of the Identity Card are an integral part of daily life in Israel and have become symbols of the Israeli consciousness. The examination was accomplished by scanning and enlarging the objects beyond their actual size. The change in scale facilitates a renewed look at their contents. Like Dots (225 x 450 cm) is a methodical scan of military berets from different armies around the world. The work conducts a dialogue with Damien Hirst’s dot paintings (with more than 1,000 dots made in his series from 1986 to 2011). Hirst referred to drugs as an escapist solution for the ills of western civilization, with every pain or problem having a medication tailored to treat its symptoms.
In Israel, the military is perceived as a solution to the country’s deep conflicts, with the use of force seen as a “magic bullet” (a wonder drug) instead of treating the root issue. The colorful berets look like a sweet illusion, arrayed in rows like the pills.
In Three Berets, the berets lose their link to functionality to become the three primary colors used in process printing (RGB – Red, Green, and Blue). In this work, Oz-Ari proposes a transformation into an aesthetic language stripped of contexts of the present reality.
The video Is it my memory? refers to a personal memorial event while simultaneously containing reflections on memory and the interpretation of broader historical events which took place in Israeli society. It challenges the confidence that memories seared into the brain are in fact authentic, thus subverting the autonomy of the self.
The portrait of the blue cover of the Israeli identity booklet is scanned in Untitled, without any specific signs identifying its owner. The cover of the somewhat worn document tells a story, looking out with an empty gaze which is full to viewers.
Raafat Hattab’s work is based on the Abd el-Nabi Muslim Cemetery in Gan Ha’atzmaut and the Trumpeldor Cemetery in Tel Aviv, the Arlosoroff murder linking the two locations. The objects strive to create a process in the viewer of reexamining events that took place in the location, to lead to a new way of thinking. Through his artworks, Hattab proposes a rectification of the place – a tikkun, as it were.
December 20, 2018
Curator: Smadar Sheffi
The work of Raafat Hattab, inspired by the subject of balance:
Balance between the artistic work , the house itself and its particular inner decor.
The balance between the architecture of the house and the surrounding natural Middle Eastern garden.
The balance between Earth and Higher dimensions, according to Kabbalistic Sources.
Between people – the Self and the Other.
Hattab wrote part of Bialik’s poem in Hebrew and Arabic on a wooden format.
A format , letters and Oriental, natural.
organic and basic decorative motifs,
like the house itself.
An insinuation to begin and play, so as to start a dialogue and put the letters according to their negative hollow patterns.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict should prepare a wooden box with all problematic issues and start looking for a creative solution, abandoning preconceptions…
Bialik, in his poetry, searched, in a way, a personal, religious and moral Balance.
Hattab’s mentioned work, succeeds in realizing a wise balance ,as it gives up artifice, sophistication or grandeur, and instead listens to the House, to the Poet, to present political and social issues and thus flows within a wide context of subtle meanings.
Mazal U'Bracha I Luck and a Blessing
Myth and Superstition in Contemporary Israeli Art
July 25, 2014
Curator: Carmit Blumenson
Beit Hatfutsot – The Museum of the Jewish People
The artists presenting at the exhibition:
Shai Azoulay I Deganit Berest I Yair Garbuz I Yosef-Joseph Dadoune I Gary Goldstein I Raafat Hattab I Larva: Maya Attoun & Meital Katz Minerbo I Assi Meshullam I Ravit Mishli I Shony Rivnay I Avi Sabah IKhen Shish I Nurit Yarden
The exhibition includes also items from the Gross Family collection, as well as a video "Hidden Details", presenting unique elements of the works by the 13 participating artists
The exhibition MazalU'Bracha- Myth and Superstition in Contemporary Israeli Art reveals an array of popular and social references to amulets and good luck symbols, as manifested in contemporary Israeli art. It explores themes and concepts such as superstition, Jewish and universal myths, blessings, prayers, and folk remedies from diverse perspectives ranging from faith and acceptance to a critical approach. The exhibition begins with a presentation of authentic faith-mediating objects, both ancient and modern, from William Gross's rich collection, and continues with more sophisticated references to “aids” used in worship as they take shape in the work of 13 contemporary artists.
All the participating artists blend a private-intimate touch with social-collective contexts, the conscious and the unconscious, which they assimilate into a personal artistic language. Each in their own way relies on the cultural materials for stimulation, introducing questions regarding individual cultural-genetic codes and those of the surroundings, which pertain to questions of identity and affiliation. The featured works are based on recognition of the human need to belong and feel protected, stemming from the realization that culture, myths, folklore, and faith form a dynamic system which constantly nourishes itself by means of accumulation and selection, and through a sense of belonging.
Most of the works were created especially for the show. They allude to the world of mysticism, while corresponding with the permanent display around them.
The new exhibition replaces the synagogue models, displayed on the second level of the core exhibition. It signifies the major changes that Beit Hatfutsot – the Museum of the Jewish People, is gradually undergoing", said Dr. Orit Shaham Gover, the Chief Curator of Beit Hatfutsot. "It is the first phase in the renewal plan before the opening of the new Synagogue Gallery in the fall of 2015".
Curator of the exhibition: Carmit Blumensohn I Chief Curator: Dr. Orit Shaham Gover