When Eyal Granit was studying for a graduate degree in photography in Madrid 16 years ago, he fell in love with the still-life paintings of Spanish Baroque artist Juan Sánchez Cotán and Italian painter Michelangelo Caravaggio.
Granit, now 40, puts a modern twist on that artform in his studio in Israel. You can see his photographs of vibrant fruits and vegetables hanging larger than life in London’s Covent Garden Market and in Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda Market.
“The series started by accident, like everything in life,” Granit tells ISRAEL21c.
“Six years ago, my wife and I went to Berlin. I found an amazing supermarket there that sells products from all over the world. One thing led to another and it led to eight photos that I have shown at exhibitions in Berlin, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.”
Last summer, Granit saw an open call from the new Covent Garden Market in London. They were seeking an artist to display works in the market’s 100-square-meter vitrine on the theme of fruit, vegetables or flowers.
“My series from Berlin was exactly that,” he realized.
Granit won the commission and photographed a huge still life of citrus fruit last October. It is hanging in London through October 2020. (Ironically, he chose citrus as a symbol of Israel, but citrus wasn’t in season when he had to create the piece, so he used oranges and clementines from France instead.)
“After that, I thought, if the British really like my work let’s do the most obvious thing and do a show in Jerusalem, where I come from,” Granit relates.
The Machane Yehuda outdoor market was the perfect choice. This is where families have sold produce for generations and it’s an important part of Granit’s life.
The city’s Cultural Department loved the idea and provided a budget to make the “Vegetables and Still Fruits” exhibit happen.
On January 1, Granit installed 18 still-life photographs executed over the past five years. He plans to add eight new ones using produce purchased in the market.
“It’s amazing for me that those photos of fruits and vegetables are hanging in the market where they are sold. Everybody who goes to Machane Yehuda and the light rail station can see them. The shoppers and the stall-keepers love the exhibit; it brings life to the market.”
Granit notes that this is the first exposition of such scale at Machane Yehuda, which is better known for the street art adorning its shop shutters.
“People like it so much we are talking about expanding the exhibition to other areas of the market. There’s also a new idea to do portraits of the veteran produce sellers and give them the respect they deserve,” says Granit.
“At the end of the day it’s all about people.”
“Vegetables and Still Fruits” will hang in Machane Yehuda until the end of 2020.