A Bronze Soldier: The IAF Through The Eyes of An Artist

Untitled, Assaf Lipchitz 2002 A Bronze Soldier: The IAF Through The Eyes of An Artist

“A Man In Shackles”, Yoram Rozov A Bronze Soldier: The IAF Through The Eyes of An Artist

“Runways”, Naomi Leshem, 2007 Many Israeli artists have referred to images and topics related to military life in their work. The IAF has also been a source of inspiration for a number of Israeli artists. This week, IAF Site takes a look at an artist’s portrayal of the IAF

Noa Fenigstein, Shani Pomes

The IDF and the IAF are an inseparable part of the everyday life of Israeli society and its culture. The complex relationship between the society and the military aspects of Israeli life has led many artists to refer to this issue in their work using hints and distinct images, sometimes sympathetically and sometimes critically. The IAF has a foothold in the art world and many artists produce works inspired by it.

Naomi Leshem: “Runways”, 2007

In a series of works titled “Runways” by photographer Naomi Leshem, a central component in the everyday life of the IAF is shown: the runway. Barefoot and with their backs to the camera, several young girls were photographed on the runway.

“These pictures say a lot”, Leshem told IAF Magazine. “I chose to photograph young girls a year or two before enlisting in the army. It speaks about the impossible combination of the youth and innocence on the one hand and the military draft on the other. At the end of the day, these are not runways from which you’d fly out to a vacation on some island; these are runways of a different significance. All the girls are barefoot in the picture because having the soles of their feet touch the track marks is exactly part of the idea. It’s their first contact with the military world”.

It was not for nothing that Leshem chose the IAF: her husband, the late Major Moshe Leshem, was a combat weapons system operator in the “Knights of the Orange Tail” squadron and was killed during a training accident with his Phantom jet. The first airbase she photographed was the Hatzerim airbase, out of which her late husband’s squadron operates.

Yoram Rozov: A Man in Shackles

In a series of oil paintings by Yoram Rozov, an image of a fighter pilot is shown from different angles and in different situations. The pilot is shown as a heroic figure that reminds the viewer of the classic Greek statute but without the mythical perfection; the fate of the pilot, who endangers himself and sacrifices his life for the sake of the State of Israel is also shown.
In “Torso”, a painting within the series, the upper torso of the pilot is shown fastened to a strap system that connects him to the ejection seat and the parachute. The pilot’s torso takes up the majority of the painting and the fact that he is bound shows that he has nowhere to escape. In his paintings, Rozov portrays the bound soldier: this fate is an inseparable part of the existential condition of the figure who, according to Rozov, chose to be a “sacrificial lamb”.

Assaf Lipchitz: Untitled, 2002

It seems that Assaf Lipchitz’s statue of a pilot shows the aircrew member in a slightly different light. In a statue made of bronze and stainless steel, Assaf Lipchitz tries to break away from the impeccable image of IAF pilots and show a pilot performing a daily, existential task: drinking water straight from the tap.
He is half-dressed in a flying suit, his helmet is placed on the ground and people passing by can really watch it up-close-unlike the classic image of a distant, noble pilot.

In so doing, Lipchitz compares humanity to an image and creates a sense of identification on the part of the viewer. The image of the pilot drinking is based on the late pilot, Major Boaz Gafni, who was killed when he was just 24 years old.