Ariela Wertheimer – a multidisciplinary artist: Ariela was born in Israel in 1957. Lives and works in Israel and has been drawing and photographing for the past 20 years. She began painting amateurly at a young age in Nehariya guided by the teacher Hemey Gal. In 1975, she studied being an X-Ray technician at Rambam Hospital in Haifa. In 1977, she enlisted in the Israeli Armed Forces and served for 12 years. In 1990, she studied painting and sculpture studies at Oranim Art College. In 1997, she begins painting consecutively and begins showing her work in group exhibitions.
How did you get into the industry?
Ever since I could remember, I always painted, even as a young girl. Over the years, I dedicated most of my time to my family and my career. Thirty years ago I began studying painting and art professionally, though the majority of my work was solely kept in the studio and my paintings were sold by word of mouth. A few years ago, we moved to Tel Aviv and my children left home so I finally had time to find my personal expression. My studio is located in the industrial area, and from there I get energy for my creations and work. I love the simplicity and optimism of the area.
Any industry trends?
In the past few years, there are new techniques including printing and graphics that are merged into art pieces. Computer graphics, printing on canvas, new LED methods, and more are several examples of the new techniques which are changing the face of art in the industry.
Any industry opportunities or challenges?
In my case, I created a new media so I saw it as a challenge. It was important for me to build it correctly, so that the layers, the interest, and the subject of my work can be understood by the audience. That’s why it was important that I built a correct box of light, even technically.
Inspiration for the art exhibit, and your vision for the exhibit at Biennale?
The idea which is inherent in the light boxes is the empowerment and personal strength. In the photographs of iron railings, I show that the empowerment and strength in a building is the buildings’ iron infrastructure. I printed the iron photographs on plexiglass, though of course, each work has its own nuances. In the background is a painted figure that I know or have heard about and then put the bars in front of the figure like a prison. The idea behind this is that all of us have a small or large prison from our past or present stories.
As soon as we take the prison's irons and embrace them and recognize them, they will become part of our strength and empower us, like Nietzsche said: “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.”
In honor of the Biennale, I created a wall of people from Venice opposite a wall of people from Jaffa to show that in the end all people are the same and that all of their problems are similar, everywhere in the world.
I grew up in Nehariya, a small town on the Mediterranean coast, and I was always curious to see the traces that the sea leaves on buildings and structures, the way that the salt and the water gnawed at the iron leaving remnants of rust. Both Jaffa and Venice are cities that touch the sea, cities that have a glorious history of conquests, cities that have been influenced by different cultures that have arrived at their ports. The small changes, at these places, that occur to them are like changes in evolution.
Lastly, in honor of the Biennale, I created a huge chandelier which expresses a couple’s relationship, emphasizing its fragility and delicacy that needs to be managed. It also represents the freedom and ties of a relationship but finds a delicate balance between them.
What's next for the art exhibit afterwards?
I hope that after the Biennale I can spread my idea that personal empowerment and the understanding that personal strength is dependent on the person himself/herself. I also hope people realize that nothing should be taken for granted and that people, their relationships and personal history, are all built from several layers of insight, sensitivity and depth.
How will you measure the success of the art exhibit at Biennale?
In the event that I get the viewers to gaze at the pieces, to read, to get excited, and to be curious – then I have succeeded. Many times in life you look at something and don’t immediately understand what you’re looking at, but when you think you do, many times you’ll discover that the object you’re looking at has many layers and levels. In order to understand, one must take a deeper look and investigate. When viewers see my exhibit, I hope they realize it can be looked at from different distances, positions and angles. There is something new to be discovered every time a viewer looks at it because some areas are highlighted while others become blurred.
Your most difficult moment creating the exhibit? (and what did you learn?)
The preparations for the exhibition at the Biennale were a personal challenge for me. I am 60 years old and saw the building of the exhibition as a gift. The challenge was the personal exposure, the fact that for the first time in my life I set my dreams as the top of my priorities. At the end, I gained great satisfaction from the fact that my family stood by me and supported me.
Ideal experience for a visitor/client?
During an exhibition I had at the Farkash Gallery, I encountered viewers who felt a huge connection to the characters in the exhibition. I saw women who became overwhelmed with emotion, and one of them began to cry. Another woman who is painted in one of the pieces approached me and said, “I’m not as strong as you made me out to be,” but I responded, “You’re a strong and powerful woman. But it has a price. It is the weight of life on our shoulders." Strong women, women with thriving careers felt that these pieces were made for them and about them. In my work, with a penetrating look, you can see subtle references of issues such as homosexuality, victimization, eating disorders, and people who have moved from country to country as well as the abandonment of religious bonds or alternately conforming to a different religion, lost loves, big loves, etc.
How do you motivate others?
When you put a mirror in front of yourself, it will force you to think about your life and your close ones. My works let the viewer think, look inside themselves and internalize. In most cases, when a person "carries" a problem, it won’t necessarily be solved. However, the recognition of the problem, the observation of what it does to them in life and where they can be freed from it, forces them to open up, accept themselves– and that’s where the personal work is done.
Career advice to those in your industry?
Follow your dreams and do what makes you happy.