On street art: Mosaics in the Independence Park

One of our own subjects of discussion was: does art have a social function or should it just exist for its own sake? The abstract painters among us adopted the second view. I was not so sure. I was among the few that believed that art served a social function although I was not sure how social function should be expressed. Is it the subject of the painting that has to be socially meaningful, or is it the way it is painted? How is a socially meaningful painting style or technique different from a style or a technique that is not socially meaningful? My ideal painters, apart from Matisse and Picasso, were the Mexican masters, Rivera and Orozco.

At that time I was mainly a draughtsman. I saw drawing as the basis of realistic art and wanted to excel in it before I took up painting in oil. Actually, if I had been given the choice, I would have chosen to do frescos. While looking around for a commission to do a wall painting, I was offered the opportunity to do the best next thing, mosaic. The chief gardener of the Tel-Aviv Municipality was designing a new park, Gan Atzma'ut, (Independence Park). In the middle of the garden there was a pool and I was commissioned to decorate its walls with mosaic. Since we did not have any coloured marble or glass, I cast the mosaic stones in coloured concrete and made a mosaic that depicted local animals. Everything went well, until I put my signature in. This, I was told, was not acceptable. This seemed to me a violation of my artistic rights and I launched a campaign to let me sign my masterpiece. I cannot remember what the end result of my campaign was but, in the end, it did not matter. After a while my mosaic pool was demolished to make way for the Hilton Hotel. (See the reconstruction of Shimon's mosaics in Gan Atzma'ut, 2009 in Mosaics).