Suzanne Klotz is the creator of Thy Kingdom Come: Pocket Guide to the Holy Land, a vividly coloured book of captioned drawings that portray Israeli-occupied Palestine as she saw it between 1990 and 1995. To describe this work is in a sense to add a fourth lens to the view of the Israeli occupation and the associated war crimes being committed to perpetuate it, because the book is the artist’s vision of images seen through the naive eyes of an imaginary American tourist woman and her little daughter who arrive in the “Holy Land” excited to explore it. Therefore it is (1) fact (amply documented by the captions) filtered through (2) “innocent” observers’ perception, (3) illustrated by the artist. Yet, for all the distillation, the images in the guide pack a staggering punch. The guide consists of 44 pages, each a separate vignette, all forming a condensed pictorial “zioclopaedia” that is, as the artist puts it, “geared to educate the readers in one brief ‘reading’ about two paramount issues: the American citizens role in the destruction of Palestine, and Israel avowed and false identification of Zionism with Judaism and its spurious claim of representing all worldwide Jews.”
Perhaps to define the guide it is best to start with what it is not. It is not a comic book in the traditional form of a segmented epical narrative. Each page can be torn from the book to stand on its own like a fractal containing the features of the whole, spelling “Occupation.” What the American woman and her daughter see is shown in a series of pictorial snapshots, each of which contradicts the sanitized and sloganized concept of the “Holy Land” — “a land without people for a people without land” — a Zionist lie pervasively promoted in the American mass media. The device of the presentation through innocent eyes, reminiscent of Salingers approach in Catcher in the Rye, serves to obscure the artist’s editorializing voice and at the same time revs up the shock of “discovery” by the “innocents”. It also prompts the viewer to wonder “But how can they not know what is being done in their name, with their tax dollars? How can anyone not know all this?” It is not an allegorical comic book in the manner of Spiegelman’s Maus, in which the predatory cats represent the Germans, the ruthless, greedy pigs stand for the Polish people and the defenceless mice for the Jews. Klotz’s guide does not indict any ethnic or religious group as a whole, but it forcefully and clearly blames an ideology: Zionism, which breeds, in a state arrogantly self-proclaimed as a “Light Unto Nations,” a culture of hatred. Legislated hatred and racism are epitomized by Israeli top leaders calling the Palestinians cockroaches, and by current leaders calling for their expulsion, a “final solution” to their desired aim of making Israel a state “for Jews only.” The artist sees Zionism as a misrepresentation of Judaic values. The guide is not, although it has that effect, a sarcastic travel brochure depicting highlights of the Zionist military occupation of Palestine any more than The Inferno is Dante’s tourist guide for Hell, although it would help a first-time visitor to cut through the miasma of propaganda down to the truth of Israel’s apartheid, occupation and war crimes.
Finally, despite the numerous captions encapsulating data and facts of Israel’s systematic and ongoing land grab, ethnic cleansing and brutal oppression of the Palestinians as well as verifiable facts and figures related to the unlimited and unconditional American support (financial, military and diplomatic) of Israel, the book is not an illustrated pamphlet. Word and image are fused, whether the words are external captions or graffiti integrated within the image, into a visual whole. Nevertheless, Klotz herself considers the images simply as illustrations of what she saw with her own eyes over several years of close observation of life in occupied (and/or under siege) Palestine. In a sense the artist herself was at one time as an American visiting Israel for the first time. As a guest artist in residence at Mishkenot Shaananim — a non-governmental, non-political, international multicultural centre in Jerusalem — she first saw the realities on the ground in 1990. She returned many times for extended stays over the next five years, creating art programs, often in collaboration with Palestinian artists, and became familiar with the horror of Palestinian life under Israeli occupation only a street away (“just across Jaffa Street”), yet a world away from the relaxed and comfortable surroundings of Israeli life. She observed the moral compromise of many Israelis who had internalized the dichotomy of privately disagreeing with the government policies infringing on the Palestinians’ basic human rights without publicly opposing them. An advocate of human rights long before her Jerusalem epiphany, Klotz had spent time in Australia, deeply touched by the plight of the Australian aborigines. Ironically, when she left Australia to go to Israel for the first time, many of the aboriginal artists asked her for a great favour. Forcefully alienated from their ancestral culture, the Christianized Aborigines with no hope for redress in this life cling to the hope of help from their masters’ gods. They asked her to stick their written prayer in the Wailing Wall when she got to Jerusalem, which of course she did. Long after this memorable incident Klotz created a Portable Prayer Wall (marked Guaranteed and Made in the USA). As a way of making prayer intercession available to all, wherever they are, including those unable to reach the city now being cleansed, the Portable Prayer Wall has about it the inventive practicality as well as the wry irony of something that Mark Twain (one of the earliest anti-colonialism voices in America) might have come up with.
Suzanne Klotz has an impressive body of work dedicated to the Palestinian tragedy and the destruction of Palestinian society and culture. The reason why Thy Kingdom Come deserves more space is not only because it is highly comprehensive and representative of her vision and talent, but also because she has been unable to publish it in the US. A digital documentary introduction to it, called The Other Side of the Holy Land, which she created in a college workshop, was attacked in the local press in her city (Sedona, Arizona) by the leadership of the City Arts and Culture Commission and described as anti-Semitic in a front-page article in the local paper. Equivalent to a persona non grata branding, this type of accusation creates an atmosphere in which an artist sees previous commitments reneged on by galleries and exhibit organizers, fails to find a willing publisher, and finds it increasingly harder to show and sell ones work. This is not surprising: after all, Americans now live in the time of the Patriot Act, and Israel’s perceived enemies are America’s enemies. A recipient of numerous prestigious grants, scholarships and awards previously, especially when her work and interest were captured by “safe” (lobby-less) causes like the plight of Australian aborigines, Klotz found that her guide attracted the FBI rather than accolades. The newspaper article culminated with a call from an FBI agent who claimed she was being investigated following a denunciation of being an Israeli agent. Under this pretext she was subjected to an interrogation related to her travels and activities, which made her feel as if she were in an Israeli airport rather than in her own home. Undaunted, Klotz participated in the College Art Association Democracy Wall exhibit in Atlanta in February 2005, where she showed images from the guide stamped CENSORED, together with enlarged quotes from the slanderous article that had described her work as anti-Semitic. She explains her persistence thus: “It is not about me. It is about the fate of 5.4 million Palestinian people and about our tax dollars that finance these crimes against humanity.” Her commitment to the Palestinian cause is above all else spiritual. A deeply compassionate and genuine humanist, Klotz believes that the spiritual teachings of all major religions are the same. She also believes that Zionism has not only perverted and misrepresented Judaism to both Jews and Christians but is also misrepresenting and demonizing Muslims and Islam to the world. Her current work is a collection of 99 books she is creating, each representing one of God’s attributes. As she is working on them, she says that each day she selects one attribute to meditate on to achieve a deeper understanding of the virtue and apply it during the day. One of her dreams is one day to be able to create an art salon in southern Lebanon where she could meet with women to create artworks that incorporate traditional techniques, crafts and calligraphy. The salon would ensure the preservation of traditional arts and culture and the art would further the understanding that whether one says Allah, God, or Dios, the meaning is the same. Our moral obligation is to all people, because we are children of the same God. Until then, underemployed and over censored, she continues to work with imagination, talent and an apparently inexhaustible reservoir of compassion, endurance and hope. A telling example of her vision, talent and resourcefulness was seeing a house under demolition in her hometown one day and realizing that it would make the perfect medium for her installation — a life-size depiction of a destroyed Palestinian home (or for that matter, Lebanese or Iraqi). Judging by the photographs, the installation, especially given the mountainous landscape of Sedona, so similar to many places in hilly Palestine, was eerily evocative and strongly moving.
Mulham Assir is a Lebanese writer based in Beirut and Madrid.
56″ x 72″ (142.24cm x 182.88cm). It was created :1974 and Titled: ”Triad,”
The painting is part of the Farhat Art Museum in the Modern American Art.
Solo Exhibitions: Esther Robles Gallery, Los Angeles 1960; David Cole Gallery, San Francisco 1962; de Young Museum, San Francisco 1963, San Francisco Museum of Art, 1963; Gumps Gallery, San Francisco 1964, 65, 66, 69, 87; Marin Civic Center Gallery 1970, 95; William Sawyer gallery, San Francisco 1971, 73, 74, 76; Bolles Gallery, Santa Rosa 1982; Braunstein Quay Gallery, San Francisco 1992.
Selected Exhibitions: The Art Bank of the San Francisco Art Association, 1958, 59, 60, 62,63; Alan Gallery, New York City 1959; 50 California Artists, Whitney Museum of American Art, Walker Art Center, Albright Knox Gallery and Des Moines Art Center 1962; Some Points of View, Stanford University 1962 (Purchase Award); Winter Invitational, California Palace of The Legion of Honor, San Francisco, 1962-64 11th Invitational, Contemporary American Painters and sculptors, University of Illinois 1963; 19 Artists West of the Mississippi, Colorado Springs Fine Art center 1963; University of North Carolina Annual 1965; California Painting and Sculpture: The
Modern Era, San Francisco Museum of Art 1976; 20th Century Landscape Drawings, de Young Museum, San Francisco 1989.
Literature: Thomas Albright, Art in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1945-1980; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Painting and Sculpture Collection; Henry Hopkins, California Painting and Sculpture: The Modern Era, 1976; Who’s Who in American Art.
David J Carlson, Carlson Gallery,
“Arthur Holman’s abstract paintings of the 1950s used regular, abbreviated brush strokes-almost a kind of pointillism-to build subtly modulated surfaces of extremely close-valued colors.” Holman’s abstractions were based upon impressions of nature: “natural light, natural spaces. In the 1960s and 1970s he turned to more clearly defined, visionary landscapes bathed in radiant colors and reminiscent of the paintings of Bonnard.” (Albright)
These four oil paintings by Egidio Bonfante are part of the F.A.M from the Italian collection
From paintings of Venice, on the covers of Urban Planning and Community, up to the collage with the caps of glass bottles: the collaboration with Olivetti of a great artist of our time
The studies and the meeting with the Olivetti
Egidio Bonfante was born in Treviso on July 7, 1922. Ten years after he moved to Novara, and soon after to Milan, then follow the courses at the Brera Academy of Art College and then enrolled in the Faculty of Architecture at the Polytechnic. In the same period, from 1940 to 1946, he started attending assiduously Venice where he met several artists with whom he also occasion to paint: the Venetian city will soon become one of the main themes of his works, in which will be presented primarily using watercolors .
In 1942 he co-founded the monthly magazine of politics, literature and arts position, a few years later with Alberto Cavallari directs the monthly number of art and literature and at the same time was active as editor of A, News, Architecture, Housing, Arts .
The meeting with Olivetti in 1948, marks a turning point in his career and vocational Bonfante was commissioned by the company to study the layout for the new series of revised Community directed by Adriano Olivetti. The first issue was released in January 1949 is the beginning of an intense graphics and advertising in the corporate world.
From magazine covers to exhibitions around the world
The activity of Bonfante Olivetti makes it very fast and the graphic artist is responsible for some of the most famous and popular magazines published by Olivetti in addition to the Community, including Olivetti and Urban News, a quarterly magazine of the National Planning, conducted by Adriano Olivetti, then president of the Institute. The designs for the covers Bonfante offers are always original and sometimes unusual. May depict simple signs and symbols, or images that lead back to what is then presented in the magazine, as in the case of some numbers that Urban Bonfante illustrates Giotto’s bell tower in Florence or the houses of Amsterdam.
Olivetti Bonfante also works on several paintings wall. The first paintings date from the summer of 1952 and are carried out by the colony of Marina di Massa, the architects who designed the building asked him to decorate a wall 17 meters of the refectory and the artist performs a large painting of the sea crowded with boats and surrounded by palms and trees. The following year, he is also to decorate other walls of the colony, as a room dedicated to the rest of the children: here the artist uses images inspired by the Luna Park: the roller coaster, the Ferris wheel, carousels with horses …
The relationship with Olivetti are well established and Bonfante also deals with the design of some stores: in 1952 restructuring the showroom in Naples, where he produced a mural inspired by the architecture and the spontaneous nature of the Mediterranean in 1957 designed the store Olivetti Caracas, which also contains a mural inspired by its Venetian architecture.
A Bonfante Olivetti also entrusted the preparation of exhibitions and exhibition stands. In 1960, along with Musatti Riccardo and Renzo Zorzi, is responsible for the exhibition in memory of Adriano Olivetti in the XII Triennale di Milano. The following year, part of staging the exhibition stand Olivetti Italy ’61 to celebrate the Centennial of national unity and held in Turin. Among the most important installations are those designed by Bonfante Interorgtechnika for the fair in Moscow in 1966, for the exhibition in Copenhagen in 1969 and Olivetti for SICOB in Paris in 1972.
Advertising and assemblages
A very important contribution given by the Olivetti Bonfante consists of the advertising campaigns that the artist studied for some products, including, in the early ’70s, the calculator Divisumma 18 and the writing system Editor S14. The advertisements studied by Bonfante try to enhance certain qualities with the graphics of the products presented: for example, in the case of Divisumma 18, the artist focuses not only on elegance and design of the machine, especially on its size “portable “while to describe and represent the Editor S14 offers spectacular and captivating images to emphasize and enhance the efficiency and performance of the machine.
Also in the advertising field, in the ’70s Bonfante is also involved in various campaigns carried out during the holiday season, especially to promote the sale of certain portable typewriter, including the Letter 35. The messages proposed by the artist are immediate, easy to read and posters made by him are all characterized by a short slogan and a picture of the product, often associated with people of different ages and professions.
Bonfante is also dedicated to the achievement of some institutional advertising campaigns for Olivetti, in particular to reinforce the image of a company strongly focused on electronics and computers, to create the posters in this campaign, Bonfante inspired by the large images electronic circuit designs and is preparing a series of colorful and vibrant, able to capture the immediate attention of the public.
Towards the end of 1970, Egidio Bonfante begins to experiment with new artistic techniques. In particular, approaches to the mosaic and collage and comes to realize that those are called “assemblages” works made entirely with crown caps, the “multi-colored caps,” the soft drink consumer. In these compositions, the exhibition is dedicated to Venice and Byzantium, which inaugurates the activities of the Studio d’Ars in Milan. In recent years, Bonfante is also running a series of collages depicting the cutting process colors mosaics of the Basilica of San Marco in Venice: thus a new interpretation of Venetian architecture.
Bonfante, who worked for Olivetti until the ’80s, certainly has left an indelible mark within the company: With his great skills as an artist very creative, eclectic and unconventional, helped present the image in the world Olivetti as a company alive and dynamic. The role played by artistic and cultural Bonfante Olivetti is clear from various publications including the book published by Electa Egidio Bonfante (1996) or Egidio Bonfante, a painter at Olivetti (2003), one of the “books” of the Association Archives Olivetti on which the Director of the Archives, Eugene Pacchioli, interview the artist about his career holding Ivrea.
Bonfante the painter has presented his works in numerous exhibitions of high level, including one promoted by the Centro Culturale Olivetti in 1956 and 1976, the Olivetti showroom on display in Venice.
Egidio Bonfante died in Milan in February 2004.