Michael Elyakeem Gallery Safed
|Tzfat exhibition of the paintings of Michael Elyakeem.
Michael Elyakeem has been painting in his Safed studio for 52 years, creating picturesque oils of the streets, lanes, alleyways and stone houses of Tzfat’s Old Jewish Quarter and the surrounding areas of Northern Israel.
Michael Elyakeem came to Tzfat from his kibbutz 52 years ago. On the kibbutz he had begun to study the techniques of fine oil painting and he continued his art studies at the Tel Hai Regional College in nearby Kiryat Shmoneh. After three years of study he opened an art studio in Tzfat. Michael’s original studio was in the Old Jewish Quarter’s Central Square, Kikar HaMeginim where he witnessed the beginnings of the renaissance of the Old City of Tzfat. Michael worked in that studio for 26 years and then moved to Yosef Caro Street to take advantage of the street’s higher volume of tourist traffic.
Michael derives his inspiration from the beauty of Tzfat. He paints scenes of Tzfat’s windy alleyways and ancient buildings, using vibrant colors and defined brush strokes. Michael does not paint the famous synagogues or other well-known sites of Tzfat, but prefers to capture the simplicity of the non-famous areas of the city in his paintings. Many of Michael’s paintings include figures of the people as they walk the lanes, specifically identifiably religious figures.
Michael also depicts people in hi paintings and each painting tells its own story. He paints scenes of fathers studying Torah with their sons and boys engaged in religious studies in classrooms with their rabbi. He has painted various scenes of “Hachnassat Sefer HaTorah” -- the celebration of bringing a new Torah scroll into a synagogue -- as well as religious rituals such as blowing the shofar, saying the “kiddush” -- blessing over the wine on the Sabbath -- and men at prayer in the synagogue.
Other paintings depict the way in which Michael imagines that Tzfat residents of yesteryear might have lived their day-to-day lives, such as his rendition of the local water-carrier and klezmer musicians at a wedding.
Michael also paints portraits of various individuals, though most of his subjects are religious figures. He specializes in painting men, both as portraits and as figures in his other paintings.
Michael’s gallery is located on Yosef Caro Street, near the Yosef Caro Synagogue. He sells only his original oils -- he does not create lithographs or prints of his works. Michael paints on canvas and creates paintings in many different sizes, from paintings that are the size of a hand to larger wall hangings.