Mediterranean Love
Oil on canvas, 45 H x 40 W cm / 17.7  H x 15.7 W in
Created by Ofir Hirsh under the Abu Lavie identity in 2013

A few years ago, my artist sister, Carmit, concluded that she must sometimes escape the rush of the center of Israel. She found a haven in the north of Israel, in the old city of Acre (Acco/Akko in Hebrew), where she established her studio “Cinabu” in an arched ceiling shop, inside the old Turkish Bazaar. Other than the rich multi cultural heritage and the Mediterranean magic of Acre, she was quite excited about the ancient thick walls of her studio, which did not allow any cellular signal to get through, meaning she could really be left alone when she was there.
Before the holidays, she told me that she was about to fly to Bordeaux, France, for a vacation with her family, and that the trip falls on the same dates as the annual Acco Festival. According to her contract with the Turkish Bazaar, the studio had to stay open during festival days, so she asked me if I could replace her.
” I will do it on one term…” I responded: “I’ll spend my days there painting.”
She gladly agreed, and promised to prepare a few stretched canvases for me, along with her brushes and oil paints. She even mentioned that she would not expect to find a clean studio on her return.
I spent the Festival days in the Studio painting, and at nights I joined the crowd and enjoyed the non conventional performances around the old city. Sitting and painting there live, in front of so many people who passed by, was exactly the opposite of the sacred solitude I was used to. However, after a short hour, the faces, voices, and background music, all merged into the oriental fragrance of the Turkish Bazaar, with its colorful merchandise, oriental food and spices. The smoke from the Hookahs (Nargila) of the coffee house next door, went right into my nostrils, and the generous neighbor kept fueling me with its exquisite Turkish coffee with Cardamon. While I was busy playing with my colors in this exotic zone, I overheard a conversation “behind my back”. A gentleman was sitting with his wife for a coffee, smoking a Nargila, and very seriously he explained : “Just look at this artist. He is absolutely focused. His hand is steady and accurate, and his eyes are not moving for a second away from the canvas. I think he has the toughest job in the world.”
I wanted to laugh. I wanted to turn towards him and tell him: Are you crazy man? I’m just having fun. I have no idea what am I doing, but the one thing I do know and can assure you is that there is nothing difficult about it.”
But I didn’t. Maybe I didn’t want to disappoint him, or embarrass him in front of his wife. So while laughing loud inside, I made a few slow, dramatic and decisive brush strokes and tried to put on the most serious expression I could think of.