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Mythology & Reality

Mythology & Reality – Contemporary Australian Aboriginal Desert Art From The Gabrielle Pizzi Collection

October – December 2003

More than 150,000 people attended the first ever exhibition of contemporary Australian Aboriginal art in Israel, presented by AICE in collaboration with the Israel Museum and supported by the Pratt Foundation and the Besen Family Foundation. Running for two months at the Jerusalem Theatre Gallery, the exhibition was officially opened by the Deputy Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert on 21 October 2003. Guest speakers at the opening included the Ambassador of Australia, His Excellency Tim George; AICE Chairman Albert Dadon; Chief Executive of the Pratt Foundation, Sam Lipski; James Snyder, Director of the Israel Museum and Gabrielle Pizzi herself. A video specifically made for the launch of a speech from the Honourable Alexander Downer, Minister of Foreign Affairs was also screened.

'This extraordinary show which gives rise to a variety of mixed feelings' (Jerusalem Post) represented the best collection of Aboriginal art in private hands in the world. Gabrielle Pizzi has been campaigning vigorously for its promotion in the galleries of Australia and internationally for more than twenty years. All the artists represented are of major significance, including the first indigenous Australian (Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarra in 1983) to win the Alice Prize: Emily Kngwarreye represented Australia at the 1997 Venice Biennale. It was the perfect vehicle in which to launch the Australia Israel Cultural Exchange in Israel. Not only did it provide the opportunity to present this unique work of extraordinary power and sensitivity to an Israeli audience at the very time when global interest in Aboriginal art was increasing exponentially. But also, firmly based on the relationship between people and the land, Aboriginal art represents thousands of years of culture – social, spiritual, artistic, philosophical. It is this very relationship that creates a parallel affinity to Jews and Israel. It is this very reason that it was prescient to launch AICE with this exhibition.

Newspaper, television, website, magazine and radio journalists all clamoured to cover this historic presentation, with articles and glowing reports reaching audiences in Hebrew, Arabic, English, French, Spanish and Russian. News of the event reached beyond the confines of the usual exhibition-goers, thus achieving the objective of increasing the awareness of the art form and Australia within Israel to as wide an audience as possible.


'...I just wanted to write and tell you that I came back from the exhibition in Jerusalem inspired by what I saw. I have never seen anything like this before. It was fantastic. I felt privileged to see such quality and based on such ancient traditions. Now I want to see more. I want my family to see it. My friends as well. Thank you AICE. Thank you for bringing this exhibition to Israel...' (Sharona Aviv, Petach Tikva – received by email)

In the exhibition catalogue, Albert Dadon stated ‘The relationship between Australia and Israel has always been both warm and strong. Across the political spectrum, successive leaders have endeavoured to expand, develop and enrich the many links. The creation of AICE adds depth to this relationship.’ Everyone who attended the exhibition would certainly endorse this statement.


Mythology and Reality: Contemporary Australian Aboriginal Desert Art from the Gabrielle Pizzi exhibition is supported by:

The Pratt Foundation The Besen Family Foundation Israel Museum Jerusalem