Tel Aviv Museum of Art announces the winners of the 2021-2022 Haim Shiff Prize for Figurative-Realist Art

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Tel Aviv Museum of Art announces the winners of the 2021-2022 Haim Shiff Prize for Figurative-Realist Art
Shira Zelwer, Event, 2020. Photo: Shai Ben Efraim.

TEL AVIV.- The Haim Shiff Prize for Figurative-Realist Art Committee has awarded the prize to two artists: Shira Zelwer is the winner of the 2021 Prize and Roni Taharlev of the 2022 prize. The prize carries a US$ 10,000 grant to each artist and an accompanying solo exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Zelwer’s exhibition will open in June 2022, and Taharlev’s exhibition will take place during 2023.

Eighty-three artists submitted applications for the prize this year; the Prize Committee included TAMA’s Chief Curator Mira Lapidot, curator Emanuela Calò, Adv. Gil Brandes, TAMA Board of Directors member Doron Sebbag and Dr. Doron J. Lurie. Observers: TAMA Director Tania Coen-Uzzielli and founder of the Prize, Dubi Shiff.

The Committee noted that: “This year, for the first time, the Committee has awarded the prize to a sculptor. This novel approach stretches the boundaries of the prize, which over the past 14 years was awarded to artists who work with painting and drawing—and offers a view of figurative-realist art from a wider perspective in another medium.”

Shira Zelwer (born 1978) is a graduate of the Faculty of Arts–Hamidrasha at Beit Berl College, studied Art and Theater History at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem and has taught at the Multi-Disciplinary Art School at Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art. She began exhibiting, some 15 years ago, small-scale wax sculptures painted with acrylic. Rich in detail, the figures she made looked like highly skilled amateur craft or souvenir-shop figurines. Since then, Zelwer has refined this mode of expression, experimenting with scale as a means to study the concept of the model - such as a sculpture of a derelict public housing estate, in stark contrast with beautified architectural models. In recent years, she has been working in life size, with the real life object represented by the sculpture in a scale of 1:1. Among these works is a greenhouse with dozens of plant pots displaying a variety of plants, all exceptionally executed, producing a moment of doubt: is what we see “real” or not? Zelwer’s body of work is evolving yet coherent and captivating in its attention to detail. She enlists the long-standing tradition of realistic sculpture to highlight the Israeli human and built landscape, with all its charm and blemishes, while raising conceptual questions about the relation between realistic sculpture and the objects it represents in the world.

Roni Taharlev (born 1964) is a figurative painter with a distinct, established style, who is fascinated by the time-old subject: human figure. Her body of work, spanning over three decades, can be regarded as an ongoing study of the portrait. Her paintings are an intimate, erudite correspondence with the history of art, constantly examining and considering the premises of classical tradition. Taharlev refers to religious, mythological and literary topics, and an allegorical meaning tends to be hidden in her paintings, which have nn air of mystery and timelessness. She also deals with the representation of women: how they appear in familiar classical poses, when the painter slightly changes them and liberates them from the cultural confines that have defined them throughout the history of art, and cemented their meaning. This ongoing research has taken Taharlev one step further in a series of portraits with a blurred gender identity, aiming at gender’s point-zero: the point where the distinction between man and woman dissolves. Taharlev’s constant and committed work encompasses the values that the Shiff Prize seeks to promote. Taharlev teaches drawing and painting at Bezalel and was invited by the Louvre Museum to participate in the 2019 exhibition at the Grand Palais “The Moon: From real travel to imaginary journeys” to mark the 50th anniversary of man’s landing on the moon.

Haim Shiff (1924–2000) was a businessman, hotelier and collector of Israeli art who was a staunch supporter of young and unknown artists. His son, Dubi Shiff, also a keen collector, decided to commemorate his father with an annual prize awarded at TAMA to a prominent Israeli figurative-realist artist.

The Haim Shiff Prize for Figurative-Realist Art was established in 2008 and has since earned a key position in Israeli art, drawing large numbers of viewers to the exhibitions of its winning artists. It has been awarded so far to: Amnon David Ar, 2008 | Maïa Zer, 2009 | Eran Reshef, 2010 | Orit Akta Hildesheim, 2011 | Sigal Tsabari, Eldar Farber, 2012 | David Nipo, 2013 | Leonid Balaklav, 2014 | Ofer Rotem, 2015 | Fatma Shanan, 2016 | Matan Ben Cnaan, 2017 | Samah Shihadi, 2018 | Tigist Yoseph Ron, 2019 | Israel Hemed, 2020

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Tel Aviv Museum of Art announces the winners of the 2021-2022 Haim Shiff Prize for Figurative-Realist Art

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