Painting that survived kibbutz attack finds home in Israeli museum

JERUSALEM, Nov 12 (Reuters) – The red paint was used by chance, but it has taken on a grim significance.

It was what was on hand when Ziva Jelin painted “Curving Road” in 2010, a moody landscape of empty asphalt leading to Kibbutz Be’eri, in the southern Israeli countryside, her home.

Just out of the frame is the neighbouring Gaza Strip.

Two white spots caused by shrapnel disturb the otherwise entirely red background of the work. It was damaged when Hamas gunmen stormed the very road the painting depicts and rampaged through Be’eri on Oct. 7, killing or kidnapping scores of residents and sparking the war in Gaza.

“The red I painted with comes from a place of strong emotion, something that lights up the sky, that gives a strong impact,” said Jelin on Sunday after her artwork, rescued from the ravaged community, was put on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

“Of course today, when someone comes and sees these paintings from Be’eri, that for years I painted, sees it in red and can make the connection to ‘Red Alerts’ (rocket sirens), to fires, to massacre, to blood, to war. I respect anyone viewing it who understands it in that way,” she said.

“But that’s not where I came from.”

It was a dream, she said, to have her work, which employed acrylic and wall paint on canvas, displayed at one of Israel’s leading museums – though she is aware that recent events are what made it happen.

Be’eri was one of the towns hardest-hit in the Hamas attack. Jelin and her family hid for hours in a bomb shelter in her house as her neighborhood was besieged.

Surviving residents were eventually evacuated and Israel has since launched a devastating bombardment and ground offensive against Hamas in Gaza.

Jelin managed an art gallery in Be’eri, drawing local enthusiasts. “Curving Road” and other damaged works were later rescued. Since the attack, Jelin paints non-stop, she said.

“I see these paintings as survivors. Just like we survived, they survived. We survived a horrible massacre and these are what remains of that. This is testimony. The paintings today are testimony of what we all went through,” she said.

Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; editing by Barbara Lewis

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