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Impressions Gallery

exhibitions: past

The Quest for the Man on the White Donkey

Yaakov Israel

18th Jan - 13th Apr 2013

Israel and its surrounding territories have been an area of dispute since the country’s establishment in 1948. In this timely and relevant exhibition, Yaakov Israel takes us on a photographic journey across a complex land, offering a personal viewpoint of the nation that shares his name.

Taking inspiration from the American tradition of journeys made by photographers such as Robert Frank and Stephen Shore, Yaakov photographed the people and sights he encountered during many years of repeated wandering. The exhibition’s title was inspired by a chance meeting with a Palestinian man who rode past whilst Yaakov was photographing near the Dead Sea. He says, ‘it was only after developing the photographic plate that I realised I had encountered my ‘Messiah’: in Orthodox Jewish tradition, the Messiah (the Prophet) will arrive riding on a white donkey’.

Yaakov’s images reveal a diverse range of people and places. His portraits feature Jews and Muslims; Arabs and Israelis; students and soldiers; children and homeless people. Whilst his landscapes frequently show neglected or abandoned spaces, such as an overgrown swimming pool in the Northern Judean Desert, others portray moments of tranquility and beauty, such as gathering herbs in Haifa. Jerusalem-based Yaakov says, ‘part of my identity as an Israeli is to question everything, not to take anything for granted, to show the tensions that constantly exist’.

Exhibition courtesy of Margaret Street Gallery, London.

Yaakov Israel (Jerusalem, 1974) lives and works in Israel. He graduated in 2002 from the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem and has since taught photography at some of the most prominent art and photography schools and colleges in Israel including the Bezalel Academy. His work has been the subject of solo and group shows and he has exhibited in museums and galleries internationally including galleries in the USA, Italy and the UK. Yaakov Israel’s photographs have also been featured in international journals, including TIME LightBox (USA), Photo District News (USA), hotshoe (UK) and PRIVATE (France). The photographer was recently awarded the PHotoEspaña Descubrimientos  (New Discoveries) PHE12 Award (2012) for The Quest for the Man on the White Donkey, where the jury panel included Impressions’ Director Anne McNeill. Yaakov is represented by Margaret Street Gallery in London and Oslo8, contemporary photography gallery in Basel.

Exhibition resources

Click here to download an information sheet about the exhibition (PDF 128KB)
Click here
to read our interview with Yaakov Israel (PDF 1.2MB)

Listen again

Click here to listen to Yaakov Israel's Artist Talk, recorded at Impressions Gallery on Saturday 16 February 2013 (mp3 20mb)

What the papers say

The Guardian Guide
Telegraph and Argus
ilex (see 'In England')
le journal de la photographie

Aesthetica Blog

Eman, South-Western Negev, 2011.

Eman, South-Western Negev, 2011.

Yaakov Israel

Click on thumbnail below to enlarge

Eman, South-Western Negev, 2011. Swimming Pool, Northern Judean Desert, 2011. Nili Asleep, Nebi Musa, 2010. Sinkholes, Ein Gedi, 2011. Gadi, Ein Fuar, 2010.


Amazing colours and beauty, Thank you for making the pictures of your country and the people and places so I could see them.

Exhibtions Visitor

A brilliant exhibition of visually arresting images, which conjures up a land of unexpected beauty. The talk by Yaacov was also inspiring and added another layer of stories of human encounters to the photos. Thank you for staging an important inside view of a land so often confused by conflicting agendas of outside observers. Israel is revealed as a vibrant and welcoming land.

Andy Brooke

Very interesting and thought provoking

The Quest for the Man on the White Donke Visitor

Beautifully informative, suggestions of a world and place we dont see represented in the media, some interesting insights and provocations made thoughtfully and peacefully.

The Quest for the Man on the White Donke Visitor

Unusual to see a tranquil and beautiful side of Israel- amazing, inspiring images.

The Quest for the Man on the White Donke Visitor

Amazing colours + beauty
Thank you for making the pictures of your country + the people + places so I could see them

The Quest for the Man on the White Donke Visitor

As a student I thought it was very inspiring and insightful to other cultures and world. The photographer got across the message of how there are different cultures that have influenced others countries and you can see that by taking a simple photograph.

The Quest for the Man on the White Donke Visitor

I liked the view of Israel without the heavy politics, and I loved the light

The Quest for the Man on the White Donke Visitor

What a wonderful set of pictures. Many of the images are extraordinary. Im really glad that I was in Bradford (I live in Wales) and managed to see the show.

All best wishes.

The Quest for the Man on the White Donke Visitor

A beautiful series of photographs, I felt as if I were treading the troubled yet hallowed ground of Israel alongside the photographer whilst staring into these pictures. Moments of complete peace and serenity alongside subtle reminders of conflict and dispute; powerful, emotional and enlightening.

The Quest for the Man on the White Donke Visitor

Thought provoking, opens up the mind to a bigger world, ignore negativity

The Quest for the Man on the White Donke Visitor

What an incredible display of people, places and the spaces between which have been left for nature to reclaim. I felt the exhibition really transports the spectator and would like to thank and congratulate such a gifted person. The photographs are evidence of your incredible journey! Thanks again!

The Quest for the Man on the White Donke Visitor

Very nice, beautiful quietness. Staggering print quality. Inspiring to see traditional techniques applied so well in the modern day.

The Quest for the Man on the White Donke Visitor