Mordecai Avniel (1900 – 1989) was an Israeli artist who devoted most of his long life to expressing his love for the Israeli landscape in paintings. One of the founders of the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, Avniel emigrated from Parychy (currently Belarus) in 1921. Relocating to Haifa in 1935, he founded a law firm while maintaining an active art career from his studio on Mount Carmel. Later, Avniel joined the Artists’ Colony in Safed and worked in a home studio there.
Avniel’s style evolved over the years from detailed,realistic images executed in a variety of media — such as woodcuts,copper and stone — to a more abstract,landscaped- based style after he adopted watercolor as his primary medium in the early 1950s.
“I do not see my landscapes optically,” he said. “They are a fusion of colors blended harmoniously—abstract at times, and at other times expressions of my inner feelings.”
His work captures the magic of the land.“Only after years did I find self-expression in my landscape, in the light, the atmosphere and the sun of Israel,” he said. “My motif is always the non-static landscape with all its contrasts: the rays of dawn, the stillness of the day’s heat, the evening’s twilight, radiance and dimness, wind and rain, a night’s storm.”
Avniel’s work was included the 2004 exhibition “Our Landscape: Notes on Landscape Painting in Israel” at the University of Haifa Art Gallery. Other exhibitions include the National Gallery in Washington, Tel Aviv Museum, New York University gallery,and numerous shows in galleries in New York, Montreal, Boston, Paris,and Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Jerusalem.
This retrospective exhibition coincides with the second yahrzeit of his granddaughter, Liora Lew, who inherited many of his paintings.