Saturday, February 20, 2010
Panthera Tigris Nisnas
In the past year and a half I have been busy with a project inspired by Wadi Nisnas in Haifa, my hometown since two years.
The idea came to me while strolling through the Wadi, a beautiful if somewhat run-down old quarter, rather quiet except every year in December, when the "Festival of festivals" takes place.
I imagined a few tigers climbing down the stairs in a desolate alley.
Haifa, the port city in a coma, holds a record on both the most marvelous vistas in the country and a huge failure on behalf of the ministry of tourism and local authorities. It's a bustling microcosm under the surface. An impossible blend of veteran Israelis, orthodox Jews, Druze from the Galilee, immigrants from Russia, students from Europe, Caregivers from the Far East and Bahai's from all over. Like every big city it has a number of neighborhoods with each its special character. In Wadi Nisnas the hidden potential is even more evident. The narrow winding lanes with houses attached to each other remind me of a village in Southern France.
Wadi Nisnas is pretty deserted throughout the day, that I can vouch for after having sat there many times to draw next to "my" stairs. It is a mysterious place. I do not understand the language spoken but I can guess what is troubling the residents, or what puts them at ease. Indeed we share the same air and the same city government. It's a twenty minute walk from my home.
In the past year, Haifa Zoo celebrated the arrival of a pair of white tiger cubs from Siberia. But white tigers in general are a result of an unfortunate genetic deviation and inbreeding. I went to the zoo and had a look and took a few pictures. Victims of fashion and whim that attest human cruelty.
This year is the "Year of the Tiger" according to the Chinese calendar. Incidentally or not, the year 2010 has been declared the Year of Biodiversity by the UN. It will focus on endangered species, the tiger being on top of the list. All these facts I have learned while doing the research for my work, this past year and a half.
The project includes two large paintings in oil, as well as small watercolors, drawings, sketches etc.