Eliyahu Fatal


Dvir Gallery is delighted to present



‘Blessing and curses; blessings’



a solo show


Dvir Gallery Tel Aviv


August 20 – September 24, 2022

Eliyahu Fatal (1974, Jerualem) is a conceptual multidisciplinary artist who works with painting, sculpture, sound, video, and prints. His work deals with questions of visual perception and cultural and social taste. This is accomplished while looking at the history of Western art and also at Israeli society as they appear in the world of media. He also looks to the representation of aspects such as Orientalism, Judaism, law, media, technology, etc within Israeli society. Most of Fatal’s works appear as an incarnation of a pictorial action, whether in photography, sound, projection, or painting. His works are in the collections of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, the Israel Museum, the City of Paris Collection and more. They have also been exhibited in museums around the world, for example, the Pompidou Center in Paris, the Mishkan for Art in Munich, the Center for Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, and the Gropius Bau Museum in Berlin. Fatal has won many awards including the Dizengoff Award (2005), the Rapaport Award for a Young Artist (2007), the Ministry of Culture Award (2009), and more.


For the full biography, click here.

Selected exhibitions

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Since Then, Measurements Have Begun

Solo exhibition at the Bat Yam Museum of Art, 2020


curated by Hila Cohen-Schneiderman

The exhibition is comprised of approximately 30 works in portrait format, faithful to the proportions of a cellular phone screen. They may be described as sights and reflections of the occurrences in the artists daily work space; the studio, the adjacent streets, and the nearby market.
The exhibition is designed on two main lines of thinking – one relates to the term who-ness (Heb. Mihut) – a Hebrew term that is primary to the term of identity. This term indicates attributes contained within a subject versus the term identity which tags a subject into a reference group. The second axis concerns allegory; an expanded metaphor that has meaning beyond the visible and explicit content it represents. All with a formalistic question of container and content. The exhibition included, apart from the placement of the works, a site-specific work, which refers to the museum as a container and adds architectural elements. The exhibition is occupied with the relationship between painting, photography, and body.

The exhibition was created under a pandemic and economic conditions of inflation that involved loss of value – both in terms of the “gaze-time” in visual art, which is increasingly reduced, as well as the constant attrition of the value of artistic labor and of the artwork as work. In many ways, Fatal is concerned in this exhibition with restoring lost value, or with the creation of new values in the field, whereas the “new” never seeks to create something ex nihilo, but is rather crafted from something that already exists. And what is it that exists out there? Well, a studio. And what’s in it? Earlier works, a floor, ceiling, signs of neglect, an air conditioner, a cup, coffee, a couch, a pail, a grate, hair, crumbs, papers; the phone in one’s pocket, with its built-in camera, apps, filters, bitter-sweet emojis, hearts, kisses. And what is there beside the studio? A sports court, a fence, a market with meat and fruit and a sewage lid and garbage, as well as a sidewalk, a parking lot, the horizon, the sea. And there is also an artist, his body his biography, his memories, his Mizrahi identity, the fact that he is a native of Jerusalem currently living near the Tikva Market in Tel Aviv, his grandparents, the knowledge of where they came from, what they did, where they belonged. […] And Fatal is always meticulous about inserting this intimate interior into a context, or searching for the lost context like a phantom limb searching for its body. It seems that the name “Eli Petel – Eliyahu Fatal” carries within it a decree of fate, maktub in Arabic, since he was named after his grandfather, Eliyahu Fatal, to whom he paid tribute in the form of an artwork titled Bananas, which functions as an encrypted letter.

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Flesh Eating Stone

Solo show in Jerusalem, 2022

Broken Cisterns

Solo exhibition in the House of the Books, American Jewish University, Brandeis, California, 2018

Broken Cisterns was the first US solo show by Fatal. The exhibition reflects the artist’s incessant and complex interest in Jewish identity inside and outside of Israel, while exploring Judaism as a religion, an ethnicity, a culture, a nationality, an aesthetic, a doctrine, a language, and an ethical code. The works directly confront both spirituality and religion, as well as the social and personal questions that have to do with inclusion in a spiritual world.


The exhibition features paintings and installations, while also extending an invitation to visit a site-specific work at the House of the Book (the Brandeis-Bardin campus). Taking place nine years after the artist’s last solo show (titled Nine in the Dark, Dvir Gallery, 2009), Broken Cisterns marks the first occasion on which he is showing under the name Eliyahu Fatal – Fatal being his family’s original Iraqi-Jewish name before its encounter with and subsequent distortion by the Israeli Zionist project. The artist’s act of going back to the name Fatal is a reconnection with and a reclamation of a form of Judaism distinct from nationality and of the Middle East as a point of origin and a unique culture.


The recovered name, Fatal, had been hidden thus far, and used only on the artist’s passport – an identity to travel with, to test borders and reach. The name-turned-transportation-device is an expression of one of the central concepts underlying this exhibition – the transportation of objects and bodies (in Hebrew, שינוע, shinua). Geographic movement, physical and mental leaps, identity and cultural shifts are manifested not only in the imagery on display but also through artistic actions, including marking, carrying, tearing, running, and playing with different scales, trajectories, and inverse perspectives.

In the installation Ma Lemala Ma Lemata (What is Above, What is Down Below, 2018), projected onto the floor within a freestanding pair of jeans, we see alternate images of the artist – his legs from above, his face from below – jogging through the Tel Aviv night while reciting Taryag Mitzvot, the 613 commandments commonly recited as part of Iraqi-Jewish memorial ceremonies. The title “Ma Lemala Ma Lemata” is reminiscent of a well-known quote from the Babylonian Talmud, prohibiting any questioning of the divine hierarchy (what is above, and what is down below). But it is also a quote of this quote, as it is referenced in a popular Israeli nursery rhyme by H. N. Bialik, titled “Nad-Ned.” Ostensibly about a see-saw swinging up and down, the short poem quickly becomes an occasion for theological rumination: “What is up, and what is down” – rhymed in its original Ashkenazi meter, now long lost in modern Hebrew – “I and thou are balanced on the scales, between heaven and earth.”

The rest of the gallery’s walls featured a series of colorful drawings, Untitled (Runoffs), that trace intersecting, circular lines of calligraphy, with containers between them within which ink seems to spill, collect, and overflow. This abstract, conceptual work ironically suggests an aerial perspective on the House of the Book, evoking a series of cylindrical structures that fail to contain their own excess. This perspective would have made Fatal’s question-word at the House legible, flattening it into a two-dimensional text the viewer reads (as opposed to walking through). The scribal lines privilege the visible inscription of ink on a page, which the Talmud describes as “black fire upon white fire.” The abstract shapes and colors suggest the artist’s restless attempt to inhabit a formal logic or language, elemental and even mystical. The paint leaks, but it also cradles — like water in a cistern — the shaded gray zones within.

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Passport series in ‘In place of a place’

Group show at the Ashdod Museum of Art, 2016

Passport deals with the familiar act of framing – Passe-partout, and refers to border and identity. It is constructed of eight different images, seven of which – the familiar continents from map books and another image taken from the silhouette of the artist’s body. A color is printed inside the silhouettes, identical to that of the passe-partout cardboard, a few millimeters shifted from the original borders of the shape, as if it has fallen from the original laws of framing or went wrong over the years. This series deals with geographic borders and the dynamics of cultural borders which are affected and in fact designed by the changes of occurring in perception of the body. 

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Nine in the Dark

Solo exhibition at Dvir Gallery, Tel Aviv, 2009

Fatal’s installation, Nine in the Dark, is composed of recent materials and sculptures. In the exhibition, groups of typically sculptural works are exhibited. They stand between two dimensions and three dimensions, between a variety of materials and colorfulness and between signs and Talismans. The exhibition as a whole is trying to deal with the possible collapse of the border between visual text and the phonetic language and can be characterized by a lack of unity, a mixture of aesthetic ideas a drop of tradition and a generic collision.

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Original Nature

Solo exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Helena Rubinstein Pavilion, 2006

An installation of paintings spread over both levels of the Helena Rubinstein Pavilion. The principle of the installation revolved around reconstruction of small booths, comprised of four non-adjacent walls, and made of solid cardboard. The structures and the course of walking through and in between them created, due to their architectural placement and the materials they housed, a process contrasting between that of a Kasbah – a “Middle Eastern” neighborhood built from low-story houses, dispersed with no hierarchical regard, and that of a contemporary art fair, built as a system, from detachable and transportable parts. The entire show included six booths, three on each level. These parts represent a Kasbah inspired by a neighborhood of Djerba in Tunisia and art fair of a contemporary Israeli suburban area.

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Emblematic works

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Negative Portrait, 2002

A negative print of a self-portrait of Fatal wearing makeup. The dark parts of the head – hair, beard, shadows, and apertures – have been covered in makeup with tonal modifications into lighter shades. Whereas the light parts which stand out in the shape of the face, cheeks, lips, and eyelids, have also been made darker using tonal modifications. Development of the photograph’s negative seemingly brought the image back to the original tonality of the protagonist’s face. The work deals with identity and authenticity, and displays the effort involved in aesthetic representation as an allegory. The context for the work was an invitation to participate in the first show dealing with Mizrahi (Jewish people of Maghrebi and Middle Eastern origin) art in Israel, and it revolved around identity in social and political contexts. The work was acquired by several collectors and has been presented in Israel and Europe in several private collections.

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HAYAYA, 2003

The work is a beaded curtain of nearly 10.000 beads raising the Hebrew word HAYAYA which originates in the scriptures and refers to something that may occur in the future or bewilderment in light of something that has happened in the past. HAYAYA can be read in several ways arousing a variety of meanings from glorification to mockery. Yet, a Hebrew reader would find it difficult to read. In the piece, the word appears out of the ornamental arrangement of beads and the object itself functions as a decorative divider or Parochet (the curtain covering the front of the Holy Arch in synagogues). The work raises the question of being in the presence (of beauty), the possibility of transition (from sacred to secular, from faithful to doubtful) and the possibility of the Religious arising from the incomprehensible.

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East Jerusalem, 2010

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Sgula (Spray) and Placard (Leaf), 2005

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Untitled, 2004

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Palette, 2003

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Anarchy, 2003

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Hummus and Hummus (Spoon), 2001-2003

This emblematic work – currently in the collection of the City of Paris – is a gesture of spreading oil paint on a plate that simulates the customary serving of a hummus dish. The work deals with time and relates to Spanish artist Salvador Dali’s melting clocks. It presents a material that simulates popular fast food made of oil paints, a marker of high Western art. Drying the oil paints requires two years in the waiting, hence the question of time. Another important motif in this sculpture is cultural identity and East-West relations in the local gastronomy culture. The hummus, a local dish appropriated as a marker of Israeliness from the Palestinian cuisine, is placed on a porcelain plate intended to hang as display in the European fashion.

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The Delivery Man, 2002

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Dudu Topaz, Avi Toledano and Albert Illouz, 2001

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