The atypical career of Betsalel

Betsalel (born Jacky COHEN TANUGI) was born in Tunis in 1960. His family, of Jewish origin, immigrated to Paris in 1964 to settle in the Marais district.

It was his meeting with the Mexican painter and poet Arzola Barrera Carlos in 1992 that would push him to pursue painting.

First to enter into communication with this prolific artist traveller who drew, painted and wrote, and then as a passion that would overshadow everything else.

Arzola, for whom he would become artistic agent in Paris, would familiarize him with different painting techniques and with the preparation of media and pigments.

Their friendship, experienced as a journey of initiation, would have a profound effect on Jacky COHEN TANUGI and launch his artistic career.

In 1996, he created Arbaca at the Forum des Halles, a permanent gallery-studio concept where a long line of painters, sculptors, photographers and other artists from all of Paris would come to create in situ. His works would be exhibited there until 1999.

After the death of Arzola in 1999, having been invited to exhibit in Marseille by the Dukan gallery, Jacky Cohen Tanugi would present the synopsis of his book “Letters from a Poet to a Rogue” dedicated to the Mexican painter and poet to Radio Judaïca.

Preferring to make his mark on the margins of conventional galleries, he set up a raw gallery-studio on the forecourt of Beaubourg where he could paint directly facing the public, and where he would continually exhibit for 10 years.

His works had also been presented in the Paris gallery Image In Air since 2009.

Interested in all forms of expression, is also trained in sculpture and ceramics with Guy Honoré and collaborated with Patrizia Horvath in writing and the staging of a play commemorating the uprising of the Paris commune, and began studying digital art in 2013.

Alongside his Parisian exhibitions, in 2010 the artist went to Vietnam to exhibit in the gallery Ho Ho Ian, and to create murals in a large hotel in Mui Nê, where he would exhibit sculptures of seashells created in situ.

In 2012 he travelled to India to make a large mural for the hotel Little Italy, in Goa.

Using art as a “last line of defence against boredom” Jacky Cohen Tanugi, who would take the name Betsalel in 2016, for over two decades he would multiply the materials, techniques and media he used.

Free from any from any didactic academicism, he traces a language that has become personal and marginal in the tradition of free representation, a language he has evolved through his creations.

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