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Pine Resin / Curator: Noga Rozman

Artists: Erez Uzan and Tamar Oosterhof

Pine forests are very common in Israel. They are artificial forests of pine trees imported from Europe, and are unsuited to Israel, which is essentially a desert country. There are ecological and aesthetic reasons for planting pine trees around the country, and yet, planting these European trees in this is almost random and detached. It disregards the soil and the local reality, covers it with scenery that does not belong here, and tries to create a different reality.

The natural environment in Israel, whether the yellow desert expanses or green forests, constitutes a cultural and traditional foundation in society. Social and family gatherings in nature are a preferred recreational activity for many Israelis during the hot summer months, holidays, or festivals, when they frequent KKL-JNF sites and forests. Independence Day barbecues or Saturday morning picnics are an expression of Israeliness  that goes beyond the charred kebabs and beers in a tub of ice.

In the Project Space, two perspectives of the picnic scene intertwine. Erez Uzan, a painter who grew up on a moshav and now lives on a kibbutz, uses Israeli nature as an object for observation and documentation. Today he has a family, he is well acquainted with the “Saturday procedure” in nature, and considers it an important form of family recreation. The connection with the untamed and the freedom it offers, and the attempt to find inner peace and tranquility, presence) the need to go out into the expanses of nature. The fact that many of Israel’s forests are neither thick and tangled nor natural does not change his perception of the experience of spending time in nature. The wall painting depicts a sparse and colorful Israeli pine forest that allows the sunlight to penetrate it. In the forest, a family is spending time together, the figures appear in the background, and the forest envelops them. The colorfulness is seemingly masquerading as a forest, just as the pine trees are masquerading as part of Israel’s natural landscape.

Beside the wall paintings, the objects created by Tamar Oosterhof acquire a different meaning in the picnic experience. Tamar is a multidisciplinary artist who grew up in a kibbutz with a single mother. Family activities of this kind were never part of her experience, and in some ways they are still alien and distant to her, while remaining an object of desire. Tamar creates objects that are the setting required for any family activity in the forest, but they are distorted and deviate from their regular function. These objects have seemingly been taken from the family, or abandoned by it. They are useless, redundant. This is a set for a family spending time in the forest as imagined by the artist. The idealization these images carry in Israeli culture is hard to digest, and the artist, who is unfamiliar with them in her own experience, reconstructs their form from fantasy and ethos.

The objects enable the wall paintings to be part of the same set, and vice versa. The works contain one another, and create a reality in which there is no need for pretense. The joy and family togetherness exist alongside the darkness and rupture of the experience. 

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