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Ika (Isaac) Abravanel

Ika Abravanel comes from a family of Swiss-Jewish musicians that includes the conductor Maurice Abravanel (1903-1993) and the composer Claude Abravanel (1924-2012). Born and raised in Jerusalem, he was discovered at a very young age by Yvette Schupak, who was Marc Chagall’s student, and began studying painting, mainly in oil and pastels, as well as drawing and engraving. Later on, he joined Bezalel’s afternoon painting class in Jerusalem, and mainly studied techniques and materials. Over time, Ika continued to develop his own style.


The recurring themes in his paintings suggest two main periods in his stylistic developments. In the first period (until 2010), his paintings are abstract with the recurring subject being the circle. During this period, he painted mainly with acrylics, and worked with a high-pressure water hose to create a depth effect layer after layer. The subject was accompanied by engraving with a knife over the soft color a moment before it dried but after it congealed. After the engraving, the subject was washed using high-pressure water flow, and the process would repeat itself.

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"In painting the steps are sometimes reminiscent of dance step – one by one, until suddenly a sequence of steps is understood as movement." 

In the second period, since 2010, Ika Abravanel changed his style and began painting abstract landscapes. This work was first based on photographs he had taken or seen in magazines or daily newspapers, which inspired him to conceive the idea for the painting. Photography would form the basis for work in acrylics over canvas or cardboard. Subsequently, he would abandon the original photo and begin developing the painting in an unplanned fashion. The work would develop gradually until such point where he would paint lines in different colors, mainly black, in acrylic but also in marker pens of different colors and thicknesses to highlight and emphasize parts of the landscape shapes in the painting.  Thus, his current artistic technique is based on free and unplanned development from a concept based on a photograph by adding color, creating reliefs and emphases with design lines, also not planned in advance, until the final outcome is achieved. 


According to Ika Abravanel, “painting is akin to meditation”. It emerges out of a pure and authentic nature, sometimes from a hidden and mysterious place. You usually begin with some kind of idea that generates from within. There is even an aspect of planning, as the imagination evokes an image, which can sometimes be highly detailed, but the outcome is completely dissimilar. This is because as the process develops, additional ideas suddenly emerge, various techniques are used and often the original concept is completely abandoned, and the painting becomes something else, something that comes from a source that is difficult to define. Sometimes it is called inspiration!

The level of concentration, the physical nature of the work and the level of self-criticism are often so high, that they stem the flow and create a mental block – a kind of virtual wall that is sometimes impassable. This is a sure way to destroy a painting with potential. Therefore, in painting the steps are sometimes reminiscent of a dance step – one by one, until suddenly a sequence of steps is understood as controlled movement.

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