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The Bureaucrat

Painting by Matan Ben Cnaan, Reading by David Grossman

  • Date iconMarch 11 2021 - August 1 2021
  • Curator: Amitai Mendelsohn
  • Designer: Oz Biri
  • Artist: Matan Ben Cnaan

Matan Ben Cnaan’s monumental painting The Bureaucrat presents a dramatic moment involving a large crowd of women, men, and children in an open landscape. Despite the clear daylight and sharp realism, the meaning of this scene remains obscure. What is happening? Who is the “bureaucrat” standing at the center, clipboard in hand? Who is the woman facing him, her arms around the two girls? And what are they talking – or not talking – about?

The eminent Israeli author David Grossman took a long, hard look at this work and proposed a reading that scrutinizes details while offering a broad overview. In this encounter between a writer of words and a painter of pictures, two artists grapple with an enigmatic scene that is both collective and highly personal.


Matan Ben Cnaan, Israeli, born 1980, The Bureaucrat, 2018–2020, oil on board, 200 x 400 cm, collection of the artist
Photo by Elie Posner