The Writing on the Wall

The biggest pleasure in the ‘Open Houses’ weekend that took place in Tel Aviv two weeks ago was an unplanned surprise.

The walking between the different sites led us through alleyways in the craftsmen area between Florentine Street and Jaffa, an area I often visit during work days when I visit the various shops and craftsmen in the area. During a weekday it is an intensive mess, overcrowded and noisy, filled with open doors and windows and craftsmen whose work spill into the street.

Which is why I was surprised that on the closed doors and bare walls I discovered dozens of colorful and well-thought graffiti and wall paintings.

 

Some of the paintings were artistic, complex and had a message, while others were more pop-arty, colorful and cheerful. The unexpected discovery exited us all. The children (and the adults how became childlike at any given opportunity) ran through the alleys to discover and see more and more. Slowly, we started to recognize some works as belonging to the same artist, thanks to reoccurring symbols and images, and the whole thing turned into a game.

  It is an active scene which constantly changes and evolves. I personally found it sad when some extremely complex works were buried under a few clumsy strokes of paints and on them a new painting has been draw, usually not on the same level. Most graffiti artists are anonymous since their activity is in fact illegal, but some of them are already known and were adopted by the establishment. Their works can be purchased in galleries and seen in museums. My guess is that at least some of the works here were made by 'Know Hope', 'Pilpeled', 'Doverd'; let’s see if you can find their marks.

       

The observation raises a lot of interesting questions regarding involvement in the public space, intrusion, self-expression versus anonymity and giving up control over one’s work.

                   

Between the drawings and graphic icons you can find in the city’s streets a lot of words as well, such as songs. For me those are like candies that were spread around the city and every time I find one it makes me think.

And the perfect words to end this post with…

(Translation: “And so, it has taken me all of sixty years to understand, that water is the finest drink, and bread the most delicious food, and that art is worthless unless it plants a measure of splendor in people’s hearts” – Taha Muhammad Ali.)

The photographs here are only a small drop in the ocean of graffiti and wall paintings we saw. I highly recommend you to go with the kinds one weekend as a family trip to see the graffiti for yourselves!