Tel Aviv

Efrat Shvily/David Reeb

Sommer Contemporary Art

This was an exhibition hounded by war, but Efrat Shvily’s folksy video art and David Reeb’s flinty paintings provide stirring examples of the struggle to keep one’s artistic bearings in the face of cyclical violence. This is not to give special dispensation to Israeli (or Palestinian) art, but when you can say, like Goya, “I witnessed this,” you have given up the idea that war waits uncomplainingly outside when you step into a restaurant, a bus, or an art gallery.

Reeb paints in a menagerie of styles. Now fifty-two, he was a teenager during the Six Day War and saw his career begin to blossom at the time of the first intifada, beginning in 1987. Yet his low-key street scenes of Tel Aviv, placid vistas out his studio window, and decorative pictograms seem oblivious to the conflict—or would, if such pictures weren’t counterpointed by canvases based on Miki Kratsman’s intifada photographs,

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