One-artist Exhibition, Helena Rubinstein Pavilion, Museum Tel Aviv.
Tel-Aviv
1961

“In his first solo exhibition in Tel Aviv, Shmuel Bonneh reveals himself as one of major forces of the young generation of Israeli painters. This exhibition is not merely a promise for the future, it is a demonstration of strength, a display of achievement. This exhibition of Bonneh’s works produced over the last 3 years is evidence of the power and depth, the ongoing ability of expression that are evidence of Bonneh’s close awareness of his personal experience. The dominant motifs that preoccupy Bonneh are mainly from the Bible and Jewish martyrology. But this does not change the paintings into “Israeli” art, even though Bonneh has made a place for himself on the Jewish art map. He has absorbed the best concepts of contemporary art, just as he has absorbed the medieval expressionism, and has succeeded in integrating these concepts in his paintings, which have a primitive religious character… In these works one can find primitiveness, a directness in conveying experience. … In later paintings Bonneh succeeds in combining and uniting form and content, a rare and difficult undertaking. … Bonneh makes no concessions to the decorative-aesthetic. This increases the importance of his undertaking, because this is why the results remain free of pointless embellishments, and their beauty derives essentially from conveying his experience by plastic means, and not with unnecessary decoration.”

Yoav Bar El “Haaretz” 15.9.1961

 

 

“Bonneh’s work has a special place in young Israeli art. It does not belong to any of the artistic streams that flow here, it did not arise from any school, and it does not rebel against any convention....Bonneh’s primitivism is original. It is never academic because he was never in academe. He came to painting from ‘behind the scenes’, as if he himself had discovered it. If talented people learn from their masters, while genius flourishes and grows all by itself, then perhaps we can define Bonneh as a talent of genius.”

 

Rachel Engel “Maariv” 15.9.1961

 

 

“His panting is stylized figurative. … His 56 new works were, most of them, painted in 1960-61 (an extraordinary productivity!) and he continues to develop his Jewish and biblical themes, influenced by Jewish expressionism. He is certainly affected by them, but he does not imitate them, and the great momentum of his paintings awakens our interest and confirms that here is a young and promising talent. A further point of interest lies in the fact that a young artist growing up in Israel has found the courage to swim against the current of fashion, and to appropriate for himself just these traditional Jewish themes.”

 

Aryeh Lerner “Davar” 15.9.1961

 

 

“The paintings of Shmuel Bonneh currently on display at the Helena Rubinstein Pavilion have rehabilitated the Jewish ceremonial motif in modern painting. Unlike most Israeli artists, who abandon their affinity with the Israeli scene and develop a free, abstract form, Bonneh surprises us with his Jewish-ceremonial thematics and by delving into the ancient Hebrew mythos. All 56 of the oil paintings in this solo exhibition belong to the world of ritual Jewish symbolism (the Ark of the Law, lions, cherubs, angels, the candelabrum, etc.). Bonneh’s approach is cubist-analytical, but an element of surrealism predominates. Sometimes he almost attains the dangerous boundaries of decorativism, but experience always gains the upper hand. … The large painting ‘Mother and Child’, a monumental sculptural concept of the mother figure, is without doubt one of the most impressive in the exhibition. It is also a lovely and colorful achievement. It is not, however, the only achievement in the exhibition, which is all about an important and individual artist.”

 

Asher Nahor “Yediot Aharonot” 15.9.1961

 

 

Shmuel Bonneh, 30, a painter with surging religious vision, is showing on the tow upper floors of the Helena Rubinstein Pavilion at Tel Aviv”. […] Each of the 56 paintings seems to be the work of a religious mystic, a hassid using paint to pray with in hot ecstasy. […] While his paintings may be considered formally, a full comprehension of his work must include the religious atmosphere and symbolism with which Bonneh fills them. […]He uses paint thickly, heaping it on in free, confident strokes. Faces and figures are strongly drawn and often outlined. The compositions are usually clear divisions of larger masses balanced by more intensely developed smaller areas. […] Each and every one of Bonneh’s figures is lifted up or distorted by some form of ecstatic religious or emotional experience. […] There are many influences at work on Bonneh’s art. Cubism has given him a well-manipulated tool, Chagall has freed the human form from earthly tethers, Rouault has provided him with a key to stark monumental simplicity and Picasso has shown him new possibilities of plastic form and direct handling of paint. With these teachers Bonneh has formulated an art of his own. There is a hint of genius in these very powerful paintings which even the enemies of literal subject material will not be able to ignore.”

 

Reuven Berman “Jerusalem Post” 19.9.1961

 

 

 

“Here we have a most unusual event; as if an invisible hand had transported us from our secular environment, and with one bound planted us in an old rabbinical school or a traditional Jewish home from the past. Around us are decorations of the Ark of the Law, cherubs and lions, candelabra, angels, and even scenes from Ezekiel and other Biblical stories. Bonneh finds his inspiration in the traditional Jewish symbols and the Bible, and creates from that symbolic world that he has stored away inside himself. All the subjects are ‘Yiddishkeit’ combined with Hebrew mysticism. …This thematic richness together with such a wealth of form and colour is wonderful. Bonneh does not repeat himself, but continues to reveal secrets of Jewish ritual, folklore and Hebrew mysticism, using modes of expression that are mainly (but not exclusively) cubist and often sculptural. The large painting “Mother and Child” is certainly one of the loveliest in the exhibition. … The picture “Animals over Jerusalem” is full of regal mystery. There are many other paintings of this type, including “Four Animals” and “Sons of Heaven”. Sometimes it seems to me that there is a tendency to illustration because of the extensive decoration, but ultimately the authentic artistic gift triumphs.”

 

Ben Meir “Herut” 15.9.1961

 

“The catalogue of Shmuel Bonneh’s exhibition opens with songs of praise, prayers and psalms to which the artist has directed his intent. It is not often that we are given a chance to see religiosity like this in an exhibition – especially in Israel. We rarely witness such faith, such majesty, such mysticism, such discipline. When we survey the 56 paintings hanging in the Helena Rubinstein Pavilion, it is hard not to think of medieval art, its pure faith and naiveté, its greatness and severity. One also thinks about those infinite versions of the ‘Pieta’, but comparisons must stop there. Because even though the paintings of Shmuel Bonneh emerge as true pietas, they remain essentially Jewish, imbued with the fierce power and severity of Judaism.”

 

G. Roth “L’Information” 15.9.1961

 

 

“Shmuel Bonneh, who has been living in Israel since he was a child, does not browse in foreign fields. Since he embarked on his artistic career his themes have been those of the people, religious, historical, or imaginative. … Now the artist turns his attention to his palette – dark, intense, illuminated, as it were, from within. His artistic ability, his sensitive touch, laying on the paint from deep inside the picture, are beautifully adapted to his subject, derived from our origins and our tragic history. These paintings ‘talk’ to everyone who looks at them, even those who have no ‘Jewish’ memories, because not only the Jewish content is important, but also their humanity that encompasses all of mankind, with which we are born and die. …The drama of Bonneh’s paintings has the power to move us.”

 

Eva Goldman “Carmelit” 1962/63

 

 

“Bonneh is one of the few artists among us whose artistry does not fall short of that of the Israeli originators of he abstract. This young artist has developed an original style. … He finds inspiration in the Jewish and biblical world, endowing his images with an oriental-legendary aspect.”

 

Miriam Tal “Gazit” vol.19, December 1961


back >>>
shmuel bonneh brings his paitings to tha exhibition
בונה מביא את ציוריו אל ביתן הלנה רובינשטיין
1