Goodman Gallery presents What we left behind, an exhibition of new paintings and works on paper by Ethiopian-Israeli artist Michal Worke curated by Tamar Arnon & Eli Zagury, this marks her first solo exhibition on the African continent.
Worke is a Tel Aviv based artist who moved at age three from Ethiopia to Israel (via Sudan) as part of “Operation Moses”, a covert evacuation of Ethiopian Jews to Israel in the 1980s. This experience has profoundly shaped her studio practice.
Worke’s paintings combine self-portraiture with domestic scenes of family life and her wider community alongside still lives.
Worke’s paintings combine self-portraiture with domestic scenes of family life and her wider community alongside still lives. A recurring motif across her practice is women wearing the Netela, a handmade scarf-like cloth made of cotton worn by Ethiopian women and a visual signifier of shared experience among Ethiopian communities now living in Israel. Worke’s paintings tend to combine people who she knows with strangers she has observed in an attempt to “give Ethiopian-Israelis a platform and a voice”.
At the heart of this latest body of work is an exploration of the aftermath of migration, a subject which the artist began unpacking during a residency in Addis Ababa in 2022. The exhibition also responds to feelings of nostalgia for home as well as experiences of feeling marginalised by members of the Ethiopian communities in Israel: “I wanted to address the theme of ‘things we leave behind’. Migrants leave many things behind, their homes, their culture, their traditions and their native language. I’m concerned about these experiences of rapid change.”
Michal Worke (b. Ethiopia, 1982) studied Painting and Drawing at HaTahana Studio from 2007 to 2008. In 2010, she received a Certificate in Multidisciplinary Art from Musrara and attended Shenkar College of Art (2010-2013).
Awards include the Mitchell and Lauren Prize for Contemporary Art from the Herzliya Museum (2020) and the Meron Sima Award for Visual Arts from Artists’ House, Jerusalem (2019).
Solo museum exhibitions include: Portrait Time (2020) at Herzliya Museum, Herzliya; Portrait of Many Portraits (2019) and I am black and I am proud (2017) at The Artists’ House, Tel Aviv. Group exhibitions include: Homecoming (2023) at Gallery II, Tel Aviv; Pictures from Family Life (2018) at Eretz Israel Museum and A Woman for Sisters (2017) at HerzLilienblum Museum, Tel Aviv.