Kahana, Aharon

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KAHANA, AHARON (1905–1967), Israeli painter. Kahana was born in Stuttgart, Germany. As soon as he began painting as a child he discovered abstraction. He studied art at the Stuttgart Academy of Art from 1922 to 1925. After he finished his studies he traveled to Berlin and Paris to learn more about the history of art and the modern art of his time. In 1934 he immigrated to Ereẓ Israel and settled in Ramat Gan. In his first decade in Israel, his style became Realistic. Only in 1943 did he return to abstraction. This was in keeping with the ideas of a new group of artists, New Horizons, that Kahana helped found. From 1962 Kahana painted in a very personal Pop Art style. He died suddenly of a heart attack in Paris during the Six-Day War.

Kahana was known for the unique art style he developed in the beginning of the 1950s. It was a mixture of Modernist forms, usually geometric, presenting very remarkable defining lines together with an archaic conceptual and biblical content. This style was suitable for wall decoration in public spaces in the young country, and using ceramic technique Kahana indeed decorated such walls (Sacrifice of Isaac, Hebrew University, Givat Ram).

During his last years he worked in a completely opposite style. The lines became soft and liquid, the figures were brimming with intensity, and the rhythm expressed vitality. The content of these drawings was more personal, showing nude figures and women's bodies.

Kahana's house in Ramat Gan was made into a museum of ceramic art in his memory.

[Ronit Steinberg (2nd ed.)]