1988 – <em>Cactus</em>, Assem Abu Shakra

Assem Abu Shakra (1961-1990) came from a family of artists in Umm El Fahm, near Hadera. His potted cactus, an oil painting in the Israel Museum, alludes to the metaphor for Israeli identity of the sabra, prickly on the outside, sweet on the inside. Abu Shakra’s cactus, however, is potted instead of being in its natural environment and is lighted by a light bulb. The sunflowers on which it stands are a reference to those of Van Gogh’s work. While Van Gogh’s sunflowers are lively and beautiful, these are unnatural, like the potted cactus. (Image copyright Israel Museum, Jerusalem; work copyright Abu Shakra’s estate, purchased by the Modern Art Acquisition Fund)