SHMUEL CHARUVI (1897 - 1965)
"To paint the Land of Israel as I had imagined it from afar" – thus, Shmuel Charuvi (Bokser) defined his artistic mission in 1953. This mission – the graphic documentation and preservation of the Israeli landscape – he set about to fulfill from the time of his arrival in the country from Odessa in 1914 at the age of seventeen.
Charuvi’s art owes no small debt to his student years (1914-17) at the Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem. In those hard years of World War I, Charuvi belonged to the charismatic group of students (including Menahem Shemi, Nahum Gutman, Joseph Levin, and others) who were to shape the new Israeli art. This was the generation which absorbed the influence of Abel Pann, who brought the Paris spirit to Jerusalem, leading its students out of the studio and into nature, effecting their fateful introduction to the Mediterranean sunlight. Thereafter, landscape would no longer be “holy places,” but natural experiences in eastern light and color.
No less decisive in the creation of Charuvi’s style were his studies in the department of landscape painting and miniature painting.
Charuvi specialized in floral decorative painting, and vegetable and animal ornamentation in the Jugendstil, Art Nouveau style. The lessons of his work in those years are reflected in many of his later paintings.
Most outstanding in Shmuel Charuvi’s art is his landscape painting. After he was demobilized from the Jewish Brigade in 1918, he began painting views of Jerusalem, very like the biblical painters working in the old Bezalel style.
The artist’s landscapes are indeed pictures of simplicity and innocence, devoid of intellectual sophistication. They are paintings of love, in quest of beautiful landscapes to be captured for all time. Sun, light, openness, idyll, spring, blooming, translucence, clean palette, strong control of warm and cool color with a partiality to warm yellow-orange tones, stasis, nearly always unpeopled – all these typify his work.
Between the vanishing past and the unknown future Charuvi’s art stands as an effort to apprehend and conquer time. Only his powerful affinity with growth and regeneration conveys his enduring interest in the ravages of time, in life, in the refusal to surrender to fading, to the twilight of nature and man.
Charuvi’s works are found in museums and private collections around the world.