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Leonid Balaklav “Self-portrait”

Please find details of “Self-portrait” by Leonid Balaklav

Leonid Balaklav is now a very well-known Israeli artist. He was born in the Moldavian city of Bălți (or Belts) in 1956. Interestingly, one half of his paintings are self-portraits. Rembrandt was a very important inspiration for Balaklav. The Dutch master also created a great amount of self-portraits, in particular, they form the tenth part of his legacy. In the interview given to Gitit Ginat, Balaklav compared drawing yourself by the mirror with praying, spiritual practices. Each portrait reflects specific condition: the light or dark moment, the sense of a missing part. Self-portrait can be a reference to the episode or a scene, that, therefore, becomes to be fixed on the canvas, as a confirmation of presence.


The artist creates light perspective towards the depth of the self-portrait. The farthest room in the reflection attracts the attention by the magical glow. The pale biblical face reminds artworks by El Greco. Balaklav sees himself as the reincarnation of the Spanish artist.

When one thinks about portraits on wood, Fayum paintings, Christian icons  and Renaissance paintings come to the mind. However, in these artworks the wooden support was concealed behind the layers of paint and even gold, strengthening the wood and making no one thinking about its instability and temporality. Balaklav paints on wood gently, keeping its surface visible, therefore, emphasizing the naturalness. Moreover, this way underscores the vulnerable and fleeting notion of the depicted figures.

Kings Gallery is a leading fine art gallery established in Jerusalem in 1995. We strive to collect and sell the highest quality historic and contemporary Israeli and International art. The gallery specializes primarily in artists from the early period of the 1920’s. Besides, we feature leading up-and-coming young artists who will definitely be prominent names in the next few years.

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