Graffiti Meets Food At Shuk Machane Yehuda in Jerusalem
People far and wide have come to Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda shuk for an authentic Middle Eastern experience, to bargain cheap prices for all kinds of goods.
The shuk becomes incredibly busy before closing time, especially right before Shabbat, but not everyone knows that the shuk becomes an urban art gallery in the night. The graffiti art is revealed when the shopkeepers call it quits for the day, closing their stores with the art-adorned retractable garage doors.
By day, you will probably see an older crowd at the shuk as they buy groceries for their families. By night, Mahane Yehuda transforms into a chic, bar-hopping haven for young folks trying to relax after a long day at work.
There is a generational disconnection between the traditional older population and the easy-going youth in Jerusalem. Yet the shuk is a nexus for all cultures to engage with one another, despite their different lives outside the walkways and stalls of Mahane Yehuda.
Much of the graffiti in the shuk is from Solomon Souza, a British-born artist. Born in London in 1993, Souza moved to Israel at the age of 17. A self-taught artist, Souza was recruited by Berel Hahn in 2015 for the Mahane Yehuda street art project. Since then, Solomon has created over a hundred urban art pieces in the shuk and around Jerusalem.
Souza’s art style uses a variety of subjective colors to create vibrancy and attraction, rendering a twist on everyday portraits. His use of subjective color also lets the viewer know that even serious leaders have a side to them that is amusing. Souza’s art provides a brilliant contrast with the bleakness of old walls surrounding the shuk and brings you in to have a closer look.
Walking through all the portraits can make you wonder who the subjects are and why were they chosen to be honored in such a way. Some portraits are more familiar than others in terms of international recognition, such as Bob Marley and Albert Einstein, and others would be recognized mainly by Israelis.
Anyone can appreciate graffiti art, but it is uniquely Israeli to use this type of urban art form to honor our Biblical ancestors, Jews and others who have significantly impacted the course of humanity.
Within a short walking distance, you can find David Ben Gurion whimsically painted upside down and a serious Moses looking at you straight in the face - each in his own way, telling you to remember his story. From Biblical figures to international Jewry and American stars, every subject has one thing in common: their contribution to the Nation of Israel and the world.
Although not all of the subjects are Jewish, each subject has some connection to the Jewish principle of tikkun olam; repairing the world.
On one garage door is a painting of Si Ali Sakkat, a former government official of Tunis who sheltered sixty Jews during the Axis occupation of Tunisia. Spray painted on a block of lockers is Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for female education and a survivor of terrorism.
My thoughts as an artist on Souza’s graffiti are centered on the subject matter of the portraits rather than his skill. When I come to Jerusalem, I want to feel a spiritual connection to my Judaism and make that bond stronger.
A picture is a snippet of a person’s lifetime; their accomplishments and shortcomings, their emotions and dreams. I connect to the people in the portraits and remember that I am freely standing in Jerusalem thanks to those who came before me and paved the way for a Jewish State. I applaud Solomon Souza for taking on such emotionally-charged subjects and using his talent to create a bright, fun atmosphere the also evokes awe and admiration.
GRAFFITI ART FOR ISRAEL
Graffiti techniques and tricks and have transformed over the years from underground roots on gritty streets to eclectic and beautiful expressions that grace avenues and alleyways around the world. In Israel, graffiti art is not just writing on the wall.
Nothing can bring you super sharp outlines and flawless color schemes quite like going out there and getting your hands messy, but we know artists of all ages are inspired to create these vibrant displays of modern art. Here is our how-to to creating your own Israel-inspired graffiti art!
- Pick a word or name you want to start with. Sketch your word onto your paper, using big letters with empty space in the middle. Letter structure is entirely up to you. Can be bubbly, squared, cursive or print.
- Pick your color scheme. Graffiti art can be many colors, or just a few. The colors can be mismatched, do not have to blend and should provide visual contrast.
- Pick your medium. Start with markers, and work your way up to painting in a drawn outline. Eventually, you might find yourself spray-painting a mural with Artists4Israel
- Add the name first, then add your background - do you want to have a landscape? A building?
- Add your embellishments. Use dramatic strokes or just little squiggly doodles. What symbols of Israel are fitting? Are there other words you would add?
- Submit your artwork to firstname.lastname@example.org and be featured in our gallery!