Motke Blum is a versatile artist, renowned and prize winner. His exhibition Stones of Color consists of works varying between Realism to Abstract in a variety of styles and mixed media. The paintings were created over a period of more than 50 years and they mostly take place in open scenery, relating to different subjects and varying between optimism and pessimism.
Motke Blum, a Jerusalem artist, was born in the small village of Raccacun, Romania, in 1925, and at age 6 moved with his parents to Bucharest. In 1944 he escaped Forced Labor and immigrated to Israel aboard a ship. En route he experienced a traumatic event, which still haunts him – the sinking by a German torpedo of the immigrants' ship "Mefkure" on which many of his friends boarded on their way to Israel. He himself escaped this fate when he was asked to leave the "Mefkure" and board another ship.
During his first years in Israel he joined kibbutz "Avuka" (established by members of the "Gordonia" movement and existed between 1941-1952) but was forced to leave after he had Malaria. He then moved to Natanya, worked as a plasterer, joined the "Haganah" and in 1948 joined the IDF. In 1951 he moved to Jerusalem and began his studies in Betzalel Art Adademy, Mordechai Ardon and Ze'ev Ben-Zvi among his teachers. During the course of his studies he studied mosaic restoration with Prof. Orselli from Ravena, sponsored by UNESCO. In 1956 he graduated Betzalel with honors and then travelled to Zeist, Holland, where he continued his training in metal work at the Royal Factory for Silverwear. In 1958 he returned to Jerusalem and opened his studio. In 1965 he travelled to the US and exhibited his work in many distinguished places, including the Smithsonian Museum in Washington. Along his varied and widespread artistic work, he continued to renovate mosaics and frescos for 40 years, commissioned by the authorities and UNESCO. In 2005 Motke received the Ish Shalom award for life achievement and in 2014 he was awarded the Jerusalem Honorary Award for his contribution to culture in Jerusalem.
Motke's multiple styles, characterizing this exhibition and Motke's work altogether, indicates an artist that never freezes in time, and is willing to experience new ways of expression. His originality and yet his links to past and contemporary art world are very present in his work. Such is a series of cubistic works he created during the 60's, with a clear affinity to the French artist of Russian origin, Nicolas de Staël (1914-1955), who created imaged by combining colorful geometrical surfaces. Motke derived also from the Romantic art of the 19th century, as seen in a series of works in black and white tones he created in recent years, in which the romantic idea of nullity of man Vs. greater powers is emphasized.
Motke is also linked to the expressive abstract of the New York School (40's and 50's of the 20th century), as derived from yet another series of paintings. In these abstract creations an explosion of lines and paint stains takes place, illustrating the artist's joy of creation and his optimistic spirit. But a pessimistic atmosphere is depicted in more concrete images, in which movement in space is blocked by barb wire, gigantic black rocks or a wall of stones. The same atmosphere overclouds images of sail boats, probably an echo of the Mefkure's ill fate. The boats are painted stuck at sea, and the condensed paint blocks which Motke used, turn the waves into a pile of stones and rocks preventing the boats from sailing on.
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