Home. Such an interesting concept.
In its most common sense the word is defined as “a place where one lives; a residence.” It can also mean “a dwelling place together with the family or social unit that occupies it,” “the place, such as a country or town, where one was born or has lived for a long period,” a headquarters, or even the landing page of a website. But what is home really, when you’re on the road and away from friends, family, security, that so-called physical structure?
“Be it ever so humble, it’s more than just a place. It’s also an idea — one where the heart is,” says Verlyn Klinkenborg, in the article “The Definition of Home” published in Smithsonian Magazine almost four years ago. For me, growing up was all about going to school and doing sports, only to then be at home. Until the age of ten, I was the kind of kid who moved too often to ever feel at home anywhere. Of course, as a child, you don’t understand this concept, you don’t see it as it is. You just sort of feel lonely and lost, without any sense of attachment to a city or friends. As Verlyn Klinkenborg, again, explains in the Smithsonian Magazine article, “our psychological habitat is shaped by what you might call the magnetic property of home, the way it aligns everything around us.” The article demonstrates that with the example of how you might come back from a trip, and upon seeing your house, experience the illusion that it’s just like every other house on a street that’s full of them. Once the illusion wears off, that house becomes your home again. For me, a house was never that. Sure I have great memories from the many different houses I’ve lived in, but I have never called them home per se. Which is why at 14 years old and coming back from a trip to Cuba, I felt distressed finding myself wanting to stay abroad. The story repeated itself on each and every adventure from then on. Except now at 25 years old, a month and a half into my Working Holiday Visa in Ireland, I realize that all these years, I’ve fooled myself into thinking I would feel home anywhere else than in Montreal. That I only had to travel and find the city that could bring peace to my troubled state of mind. Funny how really, all I needed was to feel home in my own body and mind. When it comes down to it, what else have you got but you and your thoughts after stripping yourself from the life you had? You, you, you, oh and you again. Technology has made it possible to stay in contact with family and friends —thank god!— but you can’t hangout, they’re there more in support, like beams to your true home.
For this edition of Crossing Borders, meet my good friend and talented artist Adida Fallen Angel: an open-hearted long-time traveller who has also redefined the word home throughout his journey, now finding peace wherever he may be or go.
[Fresh Paint Gallery]: About 17 years ago, you decided you were going to follow your dreams by travelling the world, painting and making music. I reckon that’s been quite the journey. Can you tell me about the context you grew up in? How was life growing up in Tel Aviv and why did you feel you had to get out?
[Adida Fallen Angel]: [A.F.A.]: Growing up in Tel Aviv has been always a wild ride for me. I have a love and hate relationship with that city: it fuels me with energy, it has a non-stop action vibe which can make you feel great and alive, but at the same time it drives me mad at times and you can get lost and lonely. The beach, the food, the different changing scenes and the nightlife are always in your system and the need to do something impressive and fresh is constant. It is a small and loud very busy town, yet has a feeling of a massive growing city. It is constantly expanding and buildings are reaching higher tops every year. At some point when I was younger, I felt I needed to see and feel more. I needed to expand my horizons, explore and be alone to see what the world had to show me so I could truly find myself. In Tel Aviv I am too busy to even focus on one clean clear thought, so the decision to get out saved my mind and shaped who I am today.
[F.P.]: Having travelled around the world —Brazil, New York City, San Diego, Rotterdam, Berlin, Paris, Montreal— how do you see your art come into play throughout your trips?
[A.F.A.]: As I moved around the world, my skills constantly matured, but going to most of those places wasn’t as much about painting as travelling is for me today. When I was in the USA, I didn’t even draw. I doodled here and there, but nothing serious. In Europe, I started to get into the arts more and it really kicked off in Rotterdam. Again, it was mainly digital art and explorations. Montreal more than any other city has pushed me into classic arts and installations and I owe Tel Aviv for being my street art and large scale murals’ birthplace. Now, whether it’s painting, street art or photography, they are all deep in my veins and I am looking forward to travelling more and improving my skills.
[F.P.]: What is the story behind your artist name?
[A.F.A.]: To be honest, I don’t even remember when or how it started, but I know I’ve always had a passion and curiosity for the concept of angels. I believe at some point on my spiritual path, I decided that I was a ‘fallen angel’ who got kicked out of heaven for doing something evil and now I have to earn my wings back by doing good. For some odd reason, that idea made sense to me and it made me very conscious about my thoughts, feelings and actions. It made me focus on the good and forced me —with love— to create a character that strives to serve the people good vibes and positive art. It also leaves my personal life intact; Adi Khavous is a just a regular guy and Adida Fallen Angel is an artist fighting the good fight.
[F.P.]: You’ve told me about the city’s activities and fast-paced life. Now, Tel Aviv’s nickname is “The City That Never Sleeps.” Do you feel like it is an accurate description?
[A.F.A.]: That is absolutely true! It is one of the many things I love about the city. At any time, day or night, you can go out, find life, great food, friends, skate spots, parties and so on. Tel Aviv is designed for hard-working people who also love to party and enjoy their hard-earned cash. It is not an easy city, but it’s definitely a bubble of madness and joy constantly reinventing itself, staying fresh and old both at once. I really recommend that people see it for themselves once in their lives.
[F.P.]: Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the street art and graffiti scene quite young in the city? Given the current political and socio-economic context, how welcomed and appreciated is street art?
[A.F.A.]: Street art is not new in Tel Aviv, but it has only been getting more hype, respect and heat for the past few years. In fact, for many years, graffiti and street art in the city was hidden, mostly lame and very political. There wasn’t any place to buy gear —i.e., spray paint, paint markers, etc.— so the styles were poor. Then, people slowly started to travel more and get connected [to the Internet]. Social media and street art both started to shape themselves, shops started to sell paint and gear and artists started to explore mediums outside their homes. Graffiti and street art is now very much alive in Tel Aviv, but it is still in its baby stages. The way I see it, new communities are forming, more people are slowly reached by pieces, you see them taking pictures and tagging the artists. There is also a better documentation and now there are even some businesses and street owners that open their hearts and walls for upcoming artists to paint on them. It is still in progress, and far from a European or American scale, but it is a beautiful day for street artists in Tel Aviv as they can finally earn a little living and get a name for themselves. We will see how this progresses in the upcoming year, but I am very happy with the growing opportunity I get here.
[F.P.]: A lot of Tel Aviv’s street art is very colourful and has to do with spreading hope messages or showing people the importance of the power of doing. Your work is also very tainted with emotion and messages to the world. Do you believe these themes and colour palettes could have something to do with the socio-political context in the Middle East? Why?
[A.F.A.]: In a way, yes, my art does have something to do with the so-called situation I don’t live there anymore though, so I think of myself as a global citizen whose art reflects the feeling I have about the world around me. I project my emotions and messages wherever I go. I feel the need for love and positive art is growing, within and around me, and so I try to project that vibe on the walls I paint, hoping it brings to the passerby a smile and a deep thought about life.
[F.P.]: You were in Montreal for a while until last summer/fall when you went back to Israel. How does it make you feel to be in your birth country? After 20 years of travelling, do you still feel like it is home?
[A.F.A.]: At times I do, at others I don’t. It does feel like some kind of home, but I have long forgotten that concept. I feel that home is wherever I sleep at night or wherever I feel whole and alive. Because I moved so many times, I have learned to appreciate that feeling and invoke it to feel less lonely— or lost. Of course, every time I land in Israel, I get a buzz, a feel for the place that was once the only one I knew … That buzz fades very quickly though and that’s fine because it lets me enjoy Israel as a tourist, with the plus of still calling it home when I need to.
[F.P.]: Your most recent project is called “The Love Concept” art installation and is an attempt at finding a deeper meaning to the word love. How did this project come along and what is your favorite thing about it?
[A.F.A.]: The Love Concept project started in Montreal at the Fresh Paint Gallery where I did an intensive installation using wheatpaste, typography and spray paint. Originally, I had no idea how far it would go, but it felt like the subject needed more exploration. When I arrived in Israel with my girlfriend —who is also my co-pilot on the matter— I found myself going back into that subject and before I knew it we were making large-scale murals using the same creative process. I slowly realized how big of an iceberg I had been sitting on for some time. It keeps growing every time we do a new piece, as I am still doing research on the subject. I am currently fascinated with the LOVE idea. What is it? Is it just a word? Is it so cheesy that people now hate it or is it a force of nature that can shape and move societies? Uplift the human kind? Who really knows? All I know is that I want to explore it more and see where it takes me.
Making my art pieces and seeing them come to life is definitely one of my favorite parts of the process, but what I truly like most is seeing how people react to them. When they take extra time to imbibe the art and see the depth of it, they are always stunned by it. Some people get it, some people pass by without even lifting their eyes, some people take pictures and some people come and ask questions and show interest and admiration. I love it all.
[F.P.]: If a genie could grant everyone a single wish, what would yours be?
[A.F.A.]: I would love to travel the world while painting large scale pieces of love and beauty and singing positive powerful songs. It’s as simple as that.
[F.P.]: In what part of the world can we expect to see new art from you next?
[A.F.A.]: I will be back in Montreal this summer and I hope I can drop some more large scale Love pieces, hopefully expanding to other cities in Canada and maybe going down to the States. We’ll see where Love takes us.
© Photos courtesy of Adida Fallen Angel, Ana V, Irit Sapojnik, Irit Bithan, Mati Ale & Sand Gold.
Born and raised in the grungy streets of Israel, Adida Fallen Angel is an all around the globe visual artist mastering the arts of visual media, filming, photography, V.Jing and curating art shows. He mixes anarchy with spirituality, leaving walls with crisp art and love messages. An important part of his formal art education consists in studying Multimedia Producing at the SAE College in The Netherlands and working with the MAMA Gallery. He has shown a soft spot for Montreal, Canada, is currently back in his birth country, Israel, where he is working on a project called “The Love Concept” art installation.