Nov 26, 2014

Peek-a-Boo: Discovering Oscar Niemeyer while Shopping for Art in Tel Aviv



TACTIC - High end designer clothing store in Kikar Hamemdina

Growing up, I spent many a summer in Tel Aviv visiting my father and family as I traveled with my sister back and forth from California.

Spending time in the city involved many days on the beach and at the pool of course, but also visiting one of the city's oldest and largest "Retail Roundabout" - Kikar Hamemdina. where I would stand in line to buy my school shoes with all the other children at this amazing children's shoe store at the time. Now gone, it is a childhood memory I hold dear as it was such a special treat.


A map of the Kikar Hamemdina.

Today,  the Kikar still remains the city’s largest plaza and is renowned as Israel’s most exclusive shopping area with events such as the first ever Fashion’s Night Out in 2012, it is a landmark for style and sophistication. 


Oscar Niemeyer in his earlier years - Photo by Eliyahu Kaminer


As I put together this post, I discover that the original circular design with a large park at its center, the uniform buildings are the work of eminent Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer! 

No wonder I have always liked being there. 





In 1964, Niemeyer was invited to Israel by Yekutiel Federman, CEO of the Dan hotel chain, to discuss potential projects but then a military coup broke out in Brazil and the short visit became six months. While in Israel, he learned that the new Brazilian regime had stripped him of his political rights and he became an outlaw overnight, wanted by the army and the police.

From his apartment in Tel Aviv Niemeyer reached out to his limited contacts in Israel, and began to partner with some prominent local architects such as Architect Abba Elhanani, who became his partner on several projects, including the proposal for the Nordia complex and the Kikar Hamedina.


A model of Kikar Hamedina, as envisioned by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. Photo by Yosef Meir



High end boutiques sit on the first floor of the residential buildings, which are lined along one circular street - He Be'Iyar Street (Israeli Independence Day Street), making it one of the most expensive and sought after areas in the city while still today remaining the ultimate destination for those seeking to enjoy an indulgent shopping experience in Tel-Aviv.


One of my favorites, and one of the first shops with European clothing is TACTIC.








While there, I came across an artist that the owner had found.
Her name, is Suly B. Wolff and this dark and moody nature inspired painting I found truly beautiful.

Learning a little more about her and her story, made me realize that we seem to be drawn to those with stories and lives like ours, don't you think?

Suly was born in Brazil with an natural talent to sketch from very young, and immigrated to Israel at 18. She became a primary school teacher at first and then went back to school to study Interior Design! With a strong design experience, in 2001 she began to dedicate herself entirely to painting drawing on her childhood experience in a tropical country with the strong juxtaposition of the urban environment she calls home for the past 30 years.





Suly and her art have traveled and seen in exhibits around the globe, including New York, India, Belgium, Israel and as part of the Florence Biennale among others since 2001.





From Suly's 2010 series, Night Paintings, this selection truly speaks to me with their dark backgrounds and almost luminescent foliage. 

Large in size and layered with detail and texture, the images don't do them justice as there is truly a multitude of tones that make up the "night sky" surrounding these trees that simply are too difficult to capture on film. 












More recent work, include these painting from the The Fifth Season and Eucalyptus series.






Hope you enjoyed this tour through the Kikar, and these paintings!

If you are interested in a little more background on Niemeyer, and his love of "woman" watch this video here:




I leave you today wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving, and with a heartfelt THANK YOU + much gratitude for your loyalty and readership over the past few years as I have shared my stories and meanderings here on Dec-a-Porter.

I hope to be able to continue to bring you original and exciting new content over the next few years, whether from my new home in California, or as I go back to New York, or from wherever my design life leads me. I hope to see you all along the way.
~ Jennifer 





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