Benjamin Netanyahu Likes Vancouver Artist Joy Caros's Portraits of Israeli President's and Prime Ministers

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Georgia Straight

Benjamin Netanyahu Likes Local Artist Joy Caros's Work

By Charlie Smith,  January 7, 2010


A Vancouver artist’s portraits of all of Israel’s presidents and prime ministers will soon be on display in the corridors of power in Jerusalem. In a phone interview with the Straight, Joy Caros said she has completed paintings of 19 of the 20 people who’ve served as that country’s president or prime minister, and she will soon finish a portrait of the last person on her list, Ariel Sharon.

“The paintings are on their way already,” Caros said on January 4. “I think they arrive today.” She plans to bring the portrait of Sharon with her when she visits the country in late May for an official unveiling.

Joy CarosJust over a decade ago, to commemorate Israel’s 50th anniversary, she donated her collection of paintings of Israel’s leaders to the Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The CFHU’s national director, Rami Kleinmann, told the Straight by phone from Ottawa that his organization is lending the portraits to the Israeli government for an unlimited time. Kleinmann said that the paintings of the prime ministers will be displayed in the prime minister’s building on the wall outside the cabinet office. He added that portraits of the presidents will likely go in a government boardroom that will be renamed the “Presidents Room”.

He described Caros as “very generous”, and said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “very happy” to display the portraits. “Through our very special relationship with the prime minister’s office, we made it happen,” Kleinmann said. “I’ve been working with Joy for the last nine years to try and find the perfect spot for her portraits. I’m very glad it finally worked out.”

Caros, a Christian, said she decided to paint Israel’s leaders in the 1990s because she appreciates how much various Jewish people have helped her career as an artist. In the 1960s, she worked with several Jewish directors in Hollywood, including Stanley Kramer, and painted portraits of all of the stars in Kramer’s hit 1963 film It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
She pointed out that Israel, unlike Canada, doesn’t commission artists to create portraits of its leaders. “It’s a great thing to do for a country that hasn’t been able to have that done,” Caros said. “They supported me all my life.”

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