I T Z H A K B E N - A R I E H Fantastic Photography
born in 1926 in Geneva of parents from Turkish origin. Completed studies there in Mechanical Engineering. Since coming to Israel in 1948, went through a number of stages: was a member of a kibbutz, a metal worker, a practical engineer, and also a teacher of technological subjects in professional high schools. Only later, at the age of 45, discovered the magic of photography : changed profession and joined the photographic laboratory of the Faculty of Architecture (Technion - Haifa) where he worked for 28 years .
Ben-Arieh works mainly with the method of photomontage. His photographs are composed of a number of negatives, which were taken at various locations and times, and were assembled by him into final prints in the darkroom.
In the artist's pictures frequently appear motives which seem to connect with imaginary scenery. The result is the creation of a differently reality which emerges from the unconscious and is related to the world of myths and archetypes.
For me, photography as a two-dimensional surface which translates three dimensional reality, created in me a feeling of deficiency. I wanted to express an additional dimension, a fourth, not of time but of spirit: not only in the psychological/philosophical sphere - but something deeper that emerges from the subconscious.
From here the way was short to the medium of photomontage, which is the combination of various elements in one picture. This between them produces interactions, affinity, dialogue and the creation of a new reality. In the same way that the secret of chemistry between two individuals cannot be explained through the intellect, so for me photomontage is the expression of mood, of spirit scenery where all the elements meet: fire, earth, water and air - and woman who contains all these inside her.
In my photomontage photography frequently appears the image of the female nude. This is the subject that corresponds to my sensuality, but also to something deeper that is
linked to cosmic nature, to universal mythos and archetypes. Nude photography is in fact a portrait of more intimacy, allowing direct expression, without masks - both of the personality of the model as well as that of the photographer. Woman, more than Man, has roots into life: Eve is the mother of all life! Therefore I agree with the French photographer Jeanloup Sieff who said: "I do not believe in God, but Woman is the proof of His existence."
So I chose to photograph in black and white, in monochrome and not in color, for then I feel utmost flexibility to express the surrealistic character of the picture. For me color is too close to reality, too naturalistic.
Usually I do not give titles to my photos. The pictures should speak for themselves. I wish to give the viewer freedom to be face to face with the picture, to be drawn into it, to understand it as he wishes, and to feel the fantasy as his personal reality.
If I want to express the general meaning of my photos, I would say that they express the beauty of life in contrast to the dangers lurking there - and in the feminine generality: the harmony of woman's world opposite the destructive power of man.
I create the pictures first of all for myself. I invest them with all that I have in me: tenderness, fears, sensuality, magic, humor and my dreams. I am aware of the world that I create: a world of fantasy, of legend, illusion and dread, a world of nowhere that is apparently alienated from reality - but reflects like a mirror the being of man.
This mirror I am offering the spectator with love, and I hope that the vibrations arising from my pictures will strike waves also in him.
1970 Beith-Sokolov, Tel-Aviv
1974 "Situation", Israel Museum, Jerusalem - group
1979 "White Gallery", Tel-Aviv
1982 "M. Valentine Gallery", Paris
1982 "Shai Danon Gallery", Tel-Aviv
1983 "Graphica 3 Gallery", Haifa
1983 "Nikon Gallery", Zurich
1984 "Zoom Portfolio", Paris
1985 "Camera Obscura", Tel-Aviv
1985 "Galerie Claude Perrain", Paris
1986 "La Femme", ZOA House, Tel-Aviv - group
1986 "Nikon Gallery", Zurich - group
1986 "Camera Obscura", Haifa
1986 "Fotografie Forum Frankfurt", Germany
1987 "City Museum", Nahariah
1988 "Moment Gallery", Hamburg - group
1990 "Burgtheater Galerie", Ratzeburg, W. Germany- group
1990 "Stara Galeria". Warsaw - group
1990 "Galeria Biala LDK". Lublin - group
1991 Karo, New Gallery, Haifa
1992 Grand Prix Photographique, Geneva - group
1993 Western Galilee College Gallery
2000 Technion - Haifa
2001 "Hottentot"Gallery - Haifa
2001 Centre Culturel Francais - Haifa
Ben-Arieh took part in international exhibitions:
London, Southampton, Lincoln, Edinburgh, Moers, Jicin, Istanbul, Nicosia, Frankfurt, Zurich, Paris, Hamburg, Warsaw, Geneva.
In addition Ben-Arieh participated in five international photographic meetings in Arles (France).
The National Library in Paris has acquired twelve photographs of the artist's various exhibitions.