Efrat Zehavi

1982(you can klick on the orange words to be linked to related works on the site)

I was born in Haifa, 1974. My father worked as physicist engineer, but spent most of his free time on artistic activities like painting and making experimental films with a super-eight camera. My mother, a poet and writer, worked at home, and as part of our daily household activities we modelled clay figures and made potato stamps. And of course I shouldn’t forget all the art books I went through, from Disney to Kandinsky, from pop art to German expressionism.

Therefore, I guess, the wish to become an artist budded in me long before I could think about art in terms of profession or career. In my early childhood perception, making art was an inseparable part of life, like eating and sleeping; it was ‘built–into’ my daily routine.

It might sound like a super romantic view on art and life; and so it is, I admit – art, for me, was a heavenly pure ideal, and at the same time a way to escape from unpleasant feelings (as a result of the divorce of my parents, for example) or to avoid confrontation with reality (it’s easier to make another drawing than to ask for attention or help).

But when I took the conscious decision, in 1995, to move to Jerusalem to study art at the Bezalel Academy, I bumped into life and also met Mr. Death; many dreams and ideals were shattered during this period of my life.

Being an art student was not as pleasant as I had hoped it would be. I became insecure; all the values and opinions I had developed over the years about art – what’s ‘good’ and what’s ‘bad’ – were put in doubt. Jerusalem, the city I loved, became a ‘min(e)d-field; every day I asked myself: will it be me in the next terror attack?… During this period I also experienced a personal loss; my boyfriend at that time died in a diving accident at the Blue hole in Sinai.

So when I finally got my Bachelor (cum laude) in 1999, I didn’t feel happy or excited to be starting my life. I was twenty-five years old but I felt like a hundred. I was anxious and tired. I wanted to step out of the ‘Greek Tragedy’, in which I was playing the main part.

This brought me to the decision to move away from my father & motherland, as we say – ‘changing place – changing luck’. And so, in September 2001 I arrived in Rotterdam to continue my art studies at the Piet Zwart Academy. In 2003 I obtained a Master’s degree with a presentation of the Displeasure City, inspired by the Aristotelian concept of the Poetics.

Life in Rotterdam started almost like a fairy tale. I fell in love with the immigration lawyer who helped me to obtain my Dutch resident permit. Florimond, I discovered later, is also a poet, and he is a great source of inspiration for my work. We live together and since 2012 we have also been co-initiators and editors of the Dichtkunstkrant, a free annual newspaper on poetry, art & topical events, in which we invite artists and poets to react to current affairs through their work.

Rotterdam is my hometown now and I love this city that provides me with the feeling of being ‘local’ and ‘international’ at the same time. Since I have lived here, there are fewer borders and less anxiety within me. I have became more open to my fellowman. Since 2007 therefore, as a performance artist, I have travelled with my studio to different locations and have invited unknown passers-by to sit for me and be portrayed in soft colourful modelling clay. I interview them, listen to their stories, and give them a chance to tell me about their life experiences. As a souvenir I give them a photo of their portrait – a Passportrait.

The big ‘breakthrough’ in the art world has not happened for me as yet. Nevertheless, I am always active and exhibiting regularly. My installations and performances were shown in solo and group exhibitions in Holland, Germany and Israel, including: TENT Rotterdam 2015, Helder Gallery 2015, TAC Eindhoven 2014, Haifa City Museum 2013, Gallery Joey Ramone Rotterdam 2013, 38 CC, Delft 2013, Hommes Gallery, Rotterdam 2013, Witteveen Gallery Amsterdam 2012, SIGN, Groningen 2011, Die Grosse, Museum KunstPalast, Dusseldorf 2011, Gorcums Museum, Gornichem 2010, Centrum Visual Art Rotterdam 2009, Art Amsterdam 2009, Biennale for Young Artists Ramat-Ha’sharon 2008, Kunstvlaai Amsterdam 2008, van Abbe Museum 2007, Gil & Moti Home Gallery 2007.

For more information, stories or full resume mail me: efrat.zehavi@gmail.com

© Efrat Zehavi 2016

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