Member of Knesset Yaron Mazuz (Likud), an Israeli deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, denounced an exhibit he visited last week at the Haifa Museum of Art that portrayed Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, as pigs. Israeli Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev was portrayed as a mafia member, wearing gold chains and a shirt bearing a picture of herself.
The caricatures, on display within an exhibit of the works of Any Warhol, are the creations of artist Ido Shemi. Mazuz asked Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav to remove the exhibit immediately and summon the museum director for a hearing. In a letter to Yahav, Mazuz wrote, “Not only does this false portrayal not comprise an original, true, or beautiful exhibit as the museum claims, [but] we are talking about nothing less than a disgrace to freedom of expression….Even art has to have certain boundaries.”
“Creations like these, if they can be called creations, are responsible for [Israel’s] negative image in the world,” added Mazuz. “If we express ourselves this way about our public officials without any bearing in reality, we mustn’t be surprised when media outlets in other countries present us in a negative light.”
Shemi defended his work on Facebook, posting, “In this artwork, I respond to things that are happening in Israel and in my opinion, lead to funny, interesting results. The artwork was created in the spirit of pop art and they should be treated as such. They are simple, funny, works of art. There is no political criticism of one side or another. Figures from the right and the left are pictured in the exhibit.”