"Work inspired by Georges Latour," oil on canvas sack.
A Jerusalem-based abstract painter
and printmaker, Asaf Ben-Zvi, 41,
is tall and powerfully built, his salt-
and-pepper hair wiry. His spacious
studio occupies two rooms in a
harsh concrete building in the Tal-
piot industrial zone. About a dozen
he says. "Things are very lively."
To get into his studio, you have
to roll back heavy metal doors. Out-
side, on a bitterly cold night, all is
harsh and ugly. Inside, an antique
glass oil heater warms a space piled
high with art. Classical music plays
other artists work in the building,
subsidized by city hall, amid hap-
in the background. Photographs of
Mr. Ben-Zvi's three small children
strip on a plastic card on a daily ba-
sis," he says. "You need it to receive
from Spain. One of the paintings is
covered in fan-shaped sweeps of
consulate. The picture, called "Yel-
low Flag Over Notre Dame
hazard squares of tacky discount
stores, light industry, and a bustling
nightlife replete with discos.
He seems a little puzzled by the
success of his neighborhood and Is-
rael's burgeoning art scene. "It's
happening even here in Jerusalem,"
are tacked up amid a smorgasbord
of reproductions of great art works.
money or information. There's noth-
ing in technology that doesn't use
this code. My work is the opposite
— it's done by hand, and each one
A huge, detailed map of Spain
hangs on one wall. It dates back to
metallic oil and pigment. Another
is a deep red with a silver cross on
top. Another is a green expanse
with a cross fading in the fore-
A glider, a light airplane without
an engine, is a recurring symbol.
Church," features a graceful but
blank golden-yellow flag peaceful-
ly flying in a nuanced golden-yellow
sky, with a hint of a dome in one cor-
ner. The flag could be anywhere,
Mr. Ben-Zvi laughs.
Mr. Ben-Zvi's range is wide. He
covers his canvases in fields of in-
tense color. His delicate prints are
small and airy. A recent series of
prints features spidery off-white
patterns on white backgrounds. The
Strip," laden with layers of double
meanings. "You need the magnetic
1989, when he painted a series of
five large paintings called "Blue
Spain." He did the work during the
intifada, he explains. It was a
painful period when "I felt like we
were expelling ourselves," reminis-
cent of when the Jews were expelled
These modern inventions without
machinery coast through many of
his canvases. He titles one "Silent."
Mr. Ben-Zvi likes ambiguity. He
smiles as he tells a story: A German
diplomat stationed in Jericho
bought one of his etchings for the
works demand a quiet attention.
Subtle word plays are important
in his titles, he says. His latest one-
person show was called "Magnetic
THE DETRO IT J EWIS H NEWS
Born in Tel Aviv, the son of an American father, Ido Bar-
El feels that Israel today is "one of the most vivid and in-
teresting art scenes in the world." The 35-year-old Bar-El
has participated in exhibits around the world. His newest
show opens in early March in Buenos Aires, where he'll
be featured along with two other Israeli artists and three
the way you want."
The signs themselves are what he calls "leftovers," gath-
ered from trash heaps and the sides of highways across the
country. One of his goals: "To create a distinctly Israeli way
of painting. "'There's a manner of painting that is very lo-
cal, that does not look like the current stream of painting
in other places," he says. "I try to paint in Hebrew."
His latest work is painted on signs, playing games with
symbolism. "I paint objects on objects," he says. "Every paint-
ing is a new venture, a new image painted differently. All
the works are untitled, so you're free to interpret them
Latest work, painted
on a, "Go Slow" sign.