Gabi Cohen

Starting Out

Gabi Cohen grew up in Tzfat in the 1960s, as part of an immigrant family from Morocco. The family was close and supportive, but there was no money for extras, which for Gabi would have included art lessons which would have allowed him to indulge his passion. "It was as though I was born with a paintbrush in my hand" Gabi says "but formal training was out of the question".

Gabi's art teacher recognized his talent and tutored him privately for several years. After Gabi finished school, he was mentored by the well-known Tzfat artist Shaul Victor. But the realities of life made Gabi relegate his beloved painting to the realm of a hobby as he worked to support his growing family of four sons.

For many years, Gabi worked as part of the work crew of Livnot U'Lehibanot. He repaired homes of the elderly and disadvantaged families as well as the Ethiopian Absorption Center, but one always knew when Gabi had been on the job. His finished work always had an added flair - there was an extra touch of creativity and finish that none of the other workers would have ever considered. But for Gabi, the work wasn't done properly if it wasn't aesthetically pleasing, even if all he did was fix some plumbing and replaster the hole in the wall.

During some fix-it work for the municipality, city officials noticed one of Gabi's ad hoc murals on an electric box, and they offered him the opportunity to paint murals throughout the city. Today, formerly empty walls and nooks throughout the city sport Gabi's murals which depict his deep connection to his city.

A Gallery

Several years ago, when working on a renovation project for Livnot in the Old City, Gabi was offered a small room from the project where he opened an experimental gallery. "This was my dream", Gabi confides. For many months, Gabi could only open the gallery after regular work hours, but as the gallery slowly grew and developed, Gabi began to devote more and more time to the gallery. Today, he works with a full-time assistant in the gallery, selling his increasingly creative and experimental artwork.

In addition to his painting with Jewish and Tzfat themes, Gabi's work includes Kabbalistic-inspired art and glass art. His original Kabbalah jewelry is a popular attraction for tourists. His gallery is located on Alkabetz Street in the Old City of Tzfat, next to the ruins of the Lemberg synagogue. He can be contacted at Gabriel@ma'