Do Not Feed the Animals
The exhibition Do Not Feed the Animals introduces a new body of works by Israeli street artist Dede, familiar to audiences from the public sphere. In recent years, motifs that allow to easily trace his imprint keep surfacing in the artist’s works: Band-Aids diversely used, little structures, sheds and buildings all integrate in his paintings, in the figures of animals made of wooden planks, ever on the run, searching or struggling. His large paintings are on display over walls in the public sphere, as well as in galleries, different art events and exhibition spaces in cultural hubs around the world, such as London, New York, Tel Aviv and Berlin.
The present exhibition is the culmination of a long work process, where Dede explored the constantly changing urban fabric. In his new works, he chose to dedicate a special place for the relationships at play between image and place, and between the Israeli art field and the urban environment that it inhabits. A key series in this exhibition features assemblage works, a processing or developing of early collages that possess a picturesque visibility. The present series sees found objects, borrowed from the deserted urban sphere, come to the fore, to become an integral part of the scene that unfolds at their front. The different items – a rusty mailbox, pieces of an old door, crumbling handles – are taken from demolished real-estate properties throughout Tel Aviv, sites in different stages of development. Dede recorded these spots, dormant monsters of interest to the public at large, and incorporated the photographs in elements he had extracted from them. The wooden gazelles and ibexes created from the mounts of destruction now gallop over the same sites of ruin, fleeing the shards of reality surrounding them, searching the imploded city for a safe haven.
Another series of stencils documents buildings that serve as home and platform to some of Israel's largest private art collections, buildings which in some cases are even owned by those collectors. In a painstaking, meticulous handcraft, Dede draws the Shalom Tower (Doron Sabag collection – ORS), Schocken House (Amos Schocken collection – Haaretz) and Marina Hotel (Dubi Shiff collection), to cite but few. This series establishes a complex relationship with previous stencil works by Dede that are still scattered around Tel Aviv. The early street art works depicts certain locations in the city – trees on a traffic island, the entrance door of a home – as seen from the spot where the artwork is painted. These works echo the urban fabric and their function is undermined when the city develops and the surface changes. Unlike the street art, Dede draws the collectors’ buildings on iron shelves, all taken from a single industrial bookstand. And thus, metaphorically speaking, we can put together the pick of Israel’s collectors' “storerooms” into a single storage facility, cost-effective and easy to use.
Around the city as in the gallery space, the ruined sites exist side by side with buildings that stand for economic power and cultural capital. The series of hanging papers features the same mixed symbolic setting: dissembled birds spreading their wings, startled animals and intimidating masks merging in bright colours with a fest of bubbly wine glasses, slices of chees, olives and crackers – the refreshments traditionally served in formal events and exhibitions' previews. The stylised food turns monstrous when served to the audience in mega scale, while the familiar starters are strewn around the gallery space like grotesque monuments that seek to remind us: do not feed the animals.