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Ori Reisman (1924-1991)
Born in Kibbutz Tel Yosef to Batsheva and Nisan Reisman, members of the Labor Legion (Gdud Ha’avodah), who came to Palestine from Proskurov, Russia with the Third Aliya (immigration wave).
He was one of the first Israeli children to be given the modern name Ori. When he was six months old his family moved to the Legion Headquarters in Jerusalem. His mother joined the Labor Legion Studio Theater, which formed the basis for the Ohel Theater, as an actress.
1928 The Reismans moved to Tel Aviv.
1930-1932 The family stayed in France for the father’s civil engineering studies.
1937 His sister, Lizia, was born.
1939 Studied in Isaak Frenkel’s studio, the first painting studio in Tel Aviv (opened in 1925), that was characterized by a familial atmosphere, but closed that same year. The Violin painting dates to that period.
1941 The Reismans moved to 3 Gottlieb Street, Tel Aviv, to a house constructed by Ori’s father (adjacent to his artist-teacher Frenkel’s home at 5 Gottlieb Street).
1942 Graduated from the Herzliya Hebrew Gymnasium Secondary School in Tel Aviv, and went for a year of agricultural training in Kibbutz Yagur.
1943 Was among the founders of Kibbutz Beit Ha’Arava on the shore of the Dead Sea. Artist Yehiel Shemi was also among the founders.
1946 Worked for the potash plant in Sodom where he met Mazal Hamdi of Kibbutz Negba and they married later that year. Mazal was the daughter of a Jerusalem-based Yemenite family, and Ori loved visiting their home (the synagogue paintings, the portraits of family members, and the 1960s depictions of Jerusalem alleys were all inspired by these visits).
1947 Their only daughter, Osnat, was born.
1949 Together with his friends who were evicted from Beit Ha’Arava, he joined the founding group of Kibbutz Cabri in the Western Galilee, where he lived and painted until his last day.
Reisman dubbed his paintings from Beit Ha’Arava and from the first years in Cabri the “turbid period.”
1951-1953 Lived in Paris (with the support of his father) and studied at the École Nationale des Beaux-Arts, attending painter Jean Souverbie’s Monumental Art workshop. His wife and daughter stayed in Israel. Artists Lea Nikel, Eliahu Gat, and Michael Gross were also in Paris at that time. Reisman formed long-lasting friendships with them. He spent three days in 1952 with Nikel painting a slaughtered chicken they bought in the market and placed as a model on a chair.
1952 During his stay in Paris, his mother, Batsheva, passed away. His father married Hedva, her older sister, who had looked after Batsheva during her illness (the marriage was kept a secret).
1954 Returned from Paris. The encounter with the “rough” people, as he called them, and the local landscape, and the struggle for his status as an artist in the kibbutz, led to his first serious crisis. “I stood on the deck of the ship approaching Haifa and looked at the strong bright light, so different from the grayish light of Paris. I looked and was frightened: it was something I didn’t know how to paint... It was a kind of light I didn’t even know how to define. White, and yet – non-white. I became terribly
depressed. " Reisman called this period “the Blues Period.”
Set up a studio in the “Canadian shower”, a deserted dilapidated structure on the margins of Cabri. Following a Kibbutz protest and Reisman’s counter-appeal, the studio was given final approval. Reisman was allowed to engage in painting two work days a week, and later – three. He was allowed to add these days up and dedicate an entire month to painting, and then one month to work on the kibbutz. Only from the mid-1970s was he allowed to devote all his time to painting.
1955 Participated in two exhibitions of the kibbutz artists, in Givat Brenner and Ein Harod
1957 Reisman was invited as a guest artist to the Group of Ten exhibition at the Jerusalem Artists’ House, where he exhibited a small-scale landscape painting distinguished by its typical coloration.
1963 Participated in the exhibition École de Paris at Galerie Charpentier, Paris (Curator of the Israeli chapter: Haim Gamzu).
1964 First solo exhibition at Chemerinsky Gallery, Tel Aviv (landscape paintings and Seated Woman).
First hospitalization after a mental breakdown. Reisman described the cyclical process of his mood swings between “positive elation” and states of depression and hospitalization: “When I had a high, I used to get pills to regulate that high, so I could sleep. Then, when the high mellowed, I would be given antidepressants, and this is how I lived for years.
1967 Second exhibition at Chemerinsky Gallery, Tel Aviv (landscape paintings, among them Carob Tree Boulevard and Path in a Field. The invitation featured the paintings Self-Portrait and Nude-Landscape).
His daughter Osnat married.
1970 First solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, Haifa (Curator: Gabriel Tadmor). The catalogue included a short text by Reisman. The exhibition spanned, among others, the paintings Mountain-Woman, Jerusalem Walls and Alley in Jerusalem; figures and portraits whose abstract and landscape style Reisman later described as “shadow paintings”: “Here, after many years of communication with the landscape, I felt that it alone did not give me satisfaction. I tried to engage in communicative interaction with people. This is how I arrived at portrait painting ... I used to focus on the large surface, namely: the shadow.
After a while, according to that interview, Reisman came to the conclusion that “the details – the eyes, the nose, and the mouth – are, in fact, the windows of the soul,” and he started painting them, while maintaining “lively conversational contact” with the depicted subject.
1971-1972 Lived another period in Paris with his wife, Mazal. Could not sell his paintings and Mazal worked for their livelihood. He was deeply influenced by an exhibition of works by English painter Francis Bacon at the Grand Palais.
1973 Solo exhibition, Man and Landscape, The Kibbutz Gallery, Tel Aviv.
1974 The Aclim group was founded under the banner of local nature and climate in art. Members included Eliahu Gat, Rachel Shavit, Ori Reisman, Hannah Levi, Avram Raphael. This was the only artist organization in which Reisman took part.
1975 Participated in the exhibition of the Aclim group at Ansdell Gallery, London.
1979 Underwent leg surgery. Received his own studio in the kibbutz.
Solo exhibition at the Kibbutz Gallery, Tel Aviv.
In addition to the private painting lessons he gave in his studio, he taught painting in Nahariya, Haifa, and Ohel Sarah. In the late 1970s and early 1980s he documented his life, thoughts and work in notebooks and recordings. Based on his estimate, he wrote some 10,000 pages in seven years.
1980 His wife Mazal passed away. Executed the body of paintings Landscapes of Mourning. His leg was badly injured in a bicycle accident.
1981 Solo exhibitions at the Mishkan Le’Omanut, Museum of Art, Ein Harod (Curator: Galia Bar Or) and Gordon Gallery, Tel Aviv.
His text about the contrastive and complementary relations between red and green was printed in a booklet in memory of Mazal.
1982 A collector purchased a large body of Reisman’s works from the kibbutz.
The Tel Aviv Museum of Art and the Israel Museum, Jerusalem acquired a Reisman painting for their collections for the first time.
1983 Solo exhibition at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem accompanied by a catalogue (Curator: Yigal Zalmona).
1986 His father Nisan passed away.
1987 Discharged from hospital, after which he never resumed painting.
1988 A retrospective exhibition at the Mishkan Le’Omanut, Museum of Art, Ein Harod, accompanied by a book (Curator: Galia Bar Or).
Received the Israeli Discount Bank Prize for an Israeli Artist.
1991 Received the Gutman Histadrut Prize for Painting and Sculpture (with Aviva Uri). Passed away in Kibbutz Cabri on his 67th birthday, in the midst of the first Gulf War.
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