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Art on the Streets

Beit Berl alumnus Itay Zalait is one of Israel’s most provocative and intriguing contemporary artists.

Zalait’s iconic “King Bibi,” a 4-meter (13 ft.) gilded bronze statue of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was placed near Tel Aviv’s City Hall for one day in 2016, before it was toppled by an angry onlooker. Last month, his “Last Supper” installation immediately became the most talked-about art of the day. Depicting Netanyahu sitting like Jesus at the Last Supper, in front of a lavishly set table overflowing with delicacies, the controversial piece attracted international attention. “All my art touches on the subject of freedom, including freedom of expression and freedom of thought,” Itay explains. Both works evoked passionate public reactions and a great deal of media attention.

Itay Zalait’s career as an artist has also included many exhibitions in galleries and museums and he has worked in a wide variety of media and styles. Although he dabbled in art since he was a small child, Zalait became a professional artist relatively late in life. His army service was spent in one of the IDF’s most elite combat units, after which he went into business in the field of corporate events. In his mid-20s he realized he wanted a more fulfilling career, and studied Psychology while spending more time on his art. Finally, he enrolled at Beit Berl's Faculty of Arts–HaMidrasha.

“I never even checked other art schools. I visited HaMidrasha and immediately liked the place and the atmosphere. I learned a lot there and have stayed in touch with many of my teachers. My studies were both practical and theoretical, and at a high level. A good teacher makes you want to work in that field, and that’s what happened to me. The teachers triggered my sense of curiosity and really opened my eyes,” he recalls.

Much of Itay’s work is influenced by the Dada movement, including his drawing techniques. “I took a course on Dadaism at HaMidrasha that really inspired me,” he says, adding that he is also fixated on materialism and the consumer culture. He often hunts for discarded objects, such as his children’s plastic toys, and recycles them as raw material for one of his projects. His installation “Furrow Industry,” which is currently part of the Haifa Museum of Art’s new group exhibition “No Windows” (through December), was created mainly out of old toys and, like all his art, is meant to pose existential questions about freedom of choice.  

תודה, הבקשה נשלחה.
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