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The exhibition "Self-Portrait: The Figure and Soul of the Painter in Israeli Art"
features 76 artworks, most of which are displayed for the first time, in honor of Israel's 76th Independence Day
at the Moshe Castel Museum in Ma’ale Adumim

Baruch Elron (1934–2006) – The Last Self-Portrait. Private Collection

Zeev Kun (b. 1930) – Self Portrait with Pomegranates. Collection of the Artist

Menashe Kadishman (1932–2015) – Self-Portrait. Maya Kadishman Collection

Chaim Aronstam (1918–2002) – Self-Portrait, 1977. Eli Shekhter Collection

Yaron Cohen (b. 1984) – Self-Portrait. Eli Shekhter Collection

Oded Feingersh (b. 1938) – Self-Portrait, 2023. Courtesy of the Artist and the Gershon Gallery

Michael Yakhilevich (b. 1956) – The Artist in his Studio, 1996. Private Collection

Naftali Bezem (1924–2018) – Self-Portrait, 1951. Eli Shekhter Collection

Amiram Tamari (1913–1981) – Self-Portrait, 1962. Oren Shatz Collection

Pinchas Shaar (1923–1996) – Self-Portrait. Eli Shekhter Collection, acquired at the Gershon Gallery

Zipi Zegla (b. 1947) – Self Portrait with Elizabeth II, the Queen of the United Kingdom. Collection of the Artist

Saul Raskin (1878–1966) – Self-Portrait. Eli Shekhter Collection

The earliest artwork by Moshe Castel that is known to us is a self-portrait, which he created in 1926, aged no more than seventeen, during his studies at Bezalel. This piece is part of our Museum's permanent exhibition. Our collection also boasts another remarkable self-portrait by Castel, painted during his stay in Paris, in 1935. This time, our Museum hosts an exhibition dedicated exclusively to self-portraits by the best Israeli artists – both Castel's contemporaries and our own.

Centuries had to pass before artists, who had not belonged to the upper strata of Medieval European societies, were able to cement their independent status and secure the recognition of their right to immortalize themselves in self-portraits, thereby keeping their memory alive for posterity. The State of Israel has been engaged in a similar struggle for legitimacy of its existence as a Jewish and democratic state. Generally, art gives us an additional prism to view the reality in which we live. This is a unique exhibition, held in challenging times, as we contemplate the portrait of our country, examining in minute detail the changes that it has undergone since its establishment.

This exhibition serves as a capstone to all the activities and subjects that we have engaged with over the past year. We have held personal exhibitions of two unique artists, Pinchas Shaar (on the centenary of his birth) and Baruch Elron (on the occasion of his 90th birthday); the self-portraits of both men are featured in this exhibition. Furthermore, this year we intend to open exhibitions of Yitzhak Alexander Frenkel (Frenel), on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of his birth, Naftali Bezem (on the centenary of his birth) and of Yosef Ostrovsky, on the occasion of his 90th birthday. Their self-portraits, too, form part of the present exhibition. Each of these five painters is a sublimely gifted artist, with a unique and unmistakable style, and we are proud and excited to have been able to convey our appreciation for them via these exhibitions at our Museum, returning their works to their rightful place of honor.

Furthermore, this year we have instituted the Moshe Castel Prize, which we shall award annually to pioneering artists for their unique contribution to changing and shaping the face of Israeli art. The winners of the first award (for the Jewish year 5784) are Ze’ev Kun, a prominent surrealist painter and Holocaust survivor, and Yehuda Armoni, a painter of the landscapes of the Land of Israel. They, too, gaze at the Museum visitors from their self-portraits, which are featured at the exhibition.

Several months ago, the artist Zipi Zegla donated us the portrait of Moshe Castel that she had painted. We are also pleased to present Zipi Zegla’s unique self-portrait at our exhibition.

We would like to thank all the artists and private collectors who have graciously loaned works for our exhibition, and especially Mr. Eli Shekhter from Yavne. Some sixty of the pieces featured at the exhibition – including self-portraits by some of the greatest Israeli artists, such as Israel Paldi, Jacob Steinhardt, Nahum Gilboa, and others – come out of Eli Shekhter's private collection, which has been painstakingly gathered over the past twenty years. Thank you, Eli!

We would also like to thank Ms. Maya Kadishman, who has enriched our exhibition with a most unique self-portrait by her father, the outstanding artist Menashe Kadishman, whose name is known to every Israeli. Nevertheless, this particular work is being exhibited in the museum space for the first time. We are very grateful to the veteran artist Oded Feingersh, who finished painting a self-portrait for this very exhibition only a few weeks ago; this work, too, is being exhibited for the first time. Our particular gratitude is due to Mr. Zohar Bernard Cohen, who has dedicated much time and effort to the Museum; it was he who negotiated between us and Ms. Kadishman and Mr. Feingersh.

We are also grateful to Mr. Oren Shatz, Mr. Avi Wurzel, Ms. Lydia Elron, Mr. Andrei Nazarov, Mr. Michael Rudinstein, and the collectors who have chosen to remain anonymous, for the artworks that they have loaned to our Museum. The last exhibition on this subject in Israel was held at the Haifa Museum almost fifty years ago, in 1976, and we are proud of having been able to undertake such a challenging project in such difficult times.

The Moshe Castel Museum has been acknowledged as a cultural center whose importance transcends the urban space of Maale-Adumim. For each of our exhibitions, we build up a suite of supplementary activities: lectures, guided tours, seminars, activities for the family, etc. I sincerely hope that a multifaceted contemplation of the self-portraits of great and important artists will shine a new light on the unique quality of their art. All our hearts are beating in unison with our one and only country. The exhibition, curated by Dr. Alek D. Epstein, comprises 76 artworks; it opens on the eve of the 76th Independence Day of the State of Israel, and is dedicated to this holiday.

Hagai Sasson,

CEO of the Moshe Castel Museum of Art in Ma’ale Adumim

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