World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 72 - Etty Elbaz Griffioen

Etty Elbaz Griffioen, together with Urit Luden, invited the Italian participants of the Carro Project for a joint exhibition in the Netherlands. This took place January this year in the MLB Gallery.

We speak with Etty after the opening. Etty: “What I loved of the exhibition is that you could see how six artists handle their impressions of the same area in Italy. Everyone does it in a completely different way. It’s like Anais Nin wrote: ‘We see things not as they are, but as we are.’ I myself find materials on my path and I start working with that.”


Etty makes both ‘art’ and ‘craft’. Initially, she kept these two strictly separate. On a fairly natural way she crossed the boundaries between the two with harmonious new work as a result.  

 Etty: “I love decorative patterns in lace, rugs and henna. That symbolizes to me the way everyone writes his own unique story.” She also likes to use unusual materials, for example plywood. One of the works in the exhibition, Green Mountains, is made on plywood. The original plywood shapes and lines are a natural part of the painting. “When I look at the empty plywood, I often see immedialtely a specific area, in this case the hills surrounding the village of Carro, where we stayed in August 2014 for the Carro Project.”


In 2008 she had her first Dutch solo exhibition ‘Out of Context’. That title related both to the material that was taken out of its usual context and the content of the work. And also to herself. Especially in the beginning she was out of her context too. Etty: “On days of a poignant sense of rootlessness, I reached for a surface to paint on and built  a home for a moment. With a lamp and a chair, a sofa and a carpet.”   

On the painting Green Mountains there is such a home, between the green. “It’s a small house, the archtype of a house. It is deep in the greenery. Does it belong to nature or not?”Around the house is a circle of white lace, painted, resembling a henna decoration. Also at the bottom of the painting there is a long white lace line. Etty: “It shows the fragility.” She made the white lace decorations using toothpicks. She researched henna decoration extensively. “Henna is a world-in-itself.” The technique she used for the making of the white lace is one of the four Moroccon techniques to make henna decorations.

El Hema

In 2007 she participated in the project El Hema, which was initiated by Mediamatic. El Hema addressed the question, in a free and inquisitive way, whether an Arabic Hema (a department store) was possible. Etty made two designs: ‘Henna Sprinkles’ and ‘The Hamsa Colors’.

The following year she had her Out of Context exhibition at Platform De Levante, behind the Rijksmuseum. She also showed artworks she had made with Henna and modelling clay, kids clay. “It is soft and malleable. You can dig in it. You can insert your nails, like Rena did, my grandmother who made drawings in riffaat biscuits with her fingernails.”

Etty attended the ‘Hamidrash for Art and Art Education’ in Ramat Hasharon. Then she did for a short time storytelling, make-up and a year drama at the Tel Aviv University. Thereafter she started to work at the Rubin Museum in Tel Aviv, located in the former home of the painter Reuven Rubin. She worked as a guide and as an educational assistent for children’s projects.

Green green horse cow

For seven years she worked there. And then she moved to a different country. She had to get accustomed. But she noted after a while that the new country had got into her system. “Full of nostalgia for the distant home, the Middle Eastern landscape, I noticed that I was drawing the Dutch landscape, this wide, panoramic, uniform landscape that from a moving car seems so monotonous … Green green horse cow green green churchtower. An open countryside which opens the heart.” And Amsterdam is a fantastic city. “There is always something happening. Very inspiring. And it’s so aesthetically with flowers and pastel colors.”

Search and learn

Etty: “Feeling comes first for me, the rational explanation comes far behind. “

Asked about her key work, she says that it isn’t there yet. “That’s quite an exciting idea. Searching and discovery is central to me. I love the fact that I still do not have a key work.”


1: Green Mountains, 2015, 2: Bandera Plate, 2015, 3: Embroidering Mountains, 2015, 4: Plant Lace, 5: Light Box, 6: Ink sofa, 2007, 7: Floating carpet, 2007, 8: Lace Henna, 2008, 9: Brown Landscape, 2008,  10: Brown carpet, 2014, 11: Blue lace landscape, 2008, 12: Blue lamp, 2008,  13: Berber Carpet, 2014, 14: Etty Elbaz Griffioen




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