Exhibition Walk-Through – Esther Peretz-Arad

Esther Peretz-Arad [1921-2005] was… ‘a force of nature. She was unstoppable but not at the expense of being a mother and a teacher’. Ron Arad R.A. artist, industrial designer, architect and son of Peretz-Arad.

It is a pity that the first major UK exhibition of the work of Israeli artist, the late Esther Peretz-Arad, has to be virtual. Despite the current restrictions, we will ensure that this exhibition receives the love and attention that Peretz-Arad’s work so richly deserves.

This unstoppable virtuoso certainly warrants a celebration. A prolific and hugely talented artist, Peretz-Arad worked freely in a variety of media including pencil, charcoal, watercolour, crayon, pastel, ink and wash. Her landscapes demand attention and they vary from joyous evocations of the natural world to intensely dramatic studies; Peretz-Arad never shied away from the challenges of an alarming scene.

However, depicting the female condition lay at the centre of her ambition. The art historian editor, critic, broadcaster and former Turner Prize judge Richard Cork writes in depth about Peretz-Arad in the current Goldmark magazine. Commenting on one particular work he states: ‘The elderly lady depicted in one arresting lithograph stares downwards, making no attempt to hide her exhaustion and despair. She is portrayed with a compassionate understanding worthy of Rembrandt …’

Esther Peretz-Arad came from a poor background herself and was intensely aware of the gulf separating the haves and have-nots. She sometimes focuses on this theme in her painting. Certainly all her work is strikingly relevant today. Street Scene in the Goldmark exhibition ‘shows at its centre some well-dressed women walking haughtily away. They have turned their backs on the ragged young figure standing at the extreme right of the canvas, brushed so thinly that corporeal solidity is giving way to a void’, Richard Cork.

Peretz-Arad was born in Bulgaria in 1921 and her parents moved to Tel Aviv when Esther was only three. She became determined to be an artist, despite parental disapproval, and in 1937 began studying painting at the studio of Aaron Avni and, later, studied sculpture under Yitzhak Danzinger. In 1943 she married sculptor and violin player Grisha Arad who had escaped Vienna in 1938.

The couple had two sons – each one inheriting specific gifts from a parent. World-famous architect Ron Arad’s drawing skills are well known, whilst the elder son Atar Arad gained from his father’s musical gifts and became a renowned viola player, essayist, composer and music professor.

Esther Peretz-Arad’s work will be on virtual display and available to buy here on the website.

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