Einan Cohen in his own words

Complete list of exhibitions and publications in Israel and abroad

I was born in 1933 in Zagreb. During WWII, I had been arrested several times, managed to escape, and spent the last years of the war in hiding. After the war I attended high school and completed what was then known as Mala Matura (small matriculation exams).

In 1948 I immigrated to Israel and became a member of kibbutz Sha’ar Ha’amakim, served in the army as a set painter in the military theater, studied art at Oranim seminary, and at Avni Art Institute in Tel Aviv with such artists as Naftali Bezem, Yehezkel  Streichman and Avigdor Steimatzky, all prominent Israeli artists.

In 1958 I had my first one-man exhibition at Katz gallery in Tel-Aviv. At the time, I had been part of a group of young artists drawn to social realistic style and had several shows with that group. Soon after, I left this style for a more individualistic one.

In 1964, following a study grant, I left for Europe, had lived in Paris, Zurich and Brussels and finally settled in Amsterdam, where I had lived from 1965 to 1984.

My first years in Amsterdam saw Provo’s (a Dutch counterculture movement in the mid 1960s) and “Flower Power”demonstrations. In 1968 I was involved in erecting Paradiso, one of the first Pop culture centers, where I later created projects which were subsequently known as “Installations”. I worked with a group of artists on a project for a newly built quarter in Amsterdam: The Osdorp project. In 1982 I planned the Vulcan Project, which was to have taken place on DAM square but did not materialize due to security problems.

Upon arrival in Amsterdam I’ve also worked with soft plastic materials, creating three-dimensional works, relief objects and electrostatic objects which would change by touch. I represented Israel with this sort of works at the Caen Biennale in France in 1969. The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam purchased some of them.

Around 1972, I’ve turned to animation films, and with the assistance of animators from Zagreb, made several films which represented Holland at film festivals around the world. The Birth of a Mountain received the prestigious Beaubourg first prize. At about that time, I have collaborated with curators of the Stedelijk museum in an exhibition of Dutch animation works. During that period, I also took part in the making of A to Z, a TV film. In 1969 I met the French film actor and director Jacques Tati and collaborated with him in the making of his last film Traffic which was filmed in Holland.

Chinese art and philosophy have always fascinated me, and in 1982 this new dimension of art has prompted me to take lessons with a Chinese artist, M.F. Lay, in order to explore the mysteries of black and white drawing, the Chinese brush, as well as drawing from nature and still life. These explorations led me back to nature, that never ending fountain of forms, lines, compositions and colors. Later on, I taught the “Chinese brush” method at the Royal Academy, and subsequently at the Summer International Art School in Amsterdam. This teaching experience succeeded my previous experience as guest teacher at the Rietveld Academy in the 1970s, where I had taught the use of and experimentation with new plastic materials.

In 1986 I moved to Jaffa permanently. Faithful to Monet’s eloquent principle: “I am excited by what is happening to me in between nature and the brush”, I returned to Nature, and have started painting outdoors once a week with the Chinese brush. Upon returning to my studio I transformed the landscapes I drew into “mindscapes”, which was also the title of my comprehensive exhibition held in Jerusalem’s Binianei Ha’umah in 1998.

I would like to point out the landmarks in my creative work in Israel which I consider to be of the utmost significance for me:

Painting my surroundings in Jaffa (1989-1991); In 1989 I created Hands in the Sea, giant floating hands, 4-meter high, representing drowning figures in protest against pollution and Jaffa’s overcrowded seashore which commanded media attention.

The strong impressions on my mind of the Sea of Galilee scenery have yielded a series of water paintings with layers upon layers of watery acrylic paint on paper and canvas.

Sculptures, perhaps more aptly referred to as objects, freely express aspects of humor and irony in my artistic perception.

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