Born in Hadera, Israel, to Abba and Vitka Kovner. Raised on Kibbutz (collective settlement) Ein-HaChoresh.
Elementary and Secondary Education on Kibbutz Ein-HaChoresh.
Accompanies Vitka, his mother, on a trip to Europe to meet his father who was absent from Israel for a year. A seven year old boy discovers the world of art.
A birthday gift of oil paints and an art lesson from his father jump starts an artistic career.
Studies painting with artist Yochanan Simon in Herzliya (a coastal town north of Tel-Aviv).
Following High School graduation, works with youth groups outside the Kibbutz.
During the Six-Day War (June 1967) returns to the Kibbutz to take charge, with fellow Kibbutz youth, of all agricultural work while most of the Kibbutz adults are mobilized for the war.
Military service in an elite army unit.
Following military service travels to the USA with army buddies. Following a visit with family friends in Los Angeles, California, makes a crucial decision to pursue art as a vocation and to take up his studies in New York rather than in Israel.
Meets Mimi Makover, his future bride.
Works as a security guard for Arkia Airlines while studying in evening classes at the Avni Institute.
Studies at the New York Studio School. Influenced by the teachings of Philip Guston, Jack Tworkow and Mercedes Mattar.
Returns to Israel for the Yom Kippur War (October-December 1973).
Despite the terrible loss of many friends during the war, comes to the painful decision to return to his studies at the New York Studio School, and with other advanced students under the guidance of a talented young painter, Steven Sloman, forms a group that works independently, often in the countryside or at the seashore, critiquing each other’s work.
- Returns with Mimi to Israel (via Spain, Southern France, and Italy, where he encounters the greatest painters of the Renaissance)
- Receives a clear decision about his artistic direction: abstract painting was a dead end. That begins a period of uncertainty that lasts three years, during which he seeks his independent path as an artist.
– Mounts first exhibition of his New York works at the Jerusalem "Artist's House"".
– Joins Bezalel Academy of Art and Design as an art instructor, and the American-Israel Cultural Foundation scholarship committee.
Marries Mimi Makover. Jointly decide to make Jerusalem their permanent home.
First child is born – a son, Amikam.
Studies Judaism with Rabbi David Hartman at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.
Explores new artistic directions with a series of bird’s-eye-view landscapes painted from aerial photographs, and desert vistas painted in the outdoors. Begins his relationship with the Bineth Gallery in Tel-Aviv. Mounts two successful shows at the Gallery – desert paintings and an exhibition of drawings.
– A second son is born, named Nimrod.
– Bineth Gallery exhibits a new series, “Houses in Gaza”.
– Exhibits in the Tel-Aviv Museum group show “Turning Point”.
– The Israel Museum in Jerusalem acquires a painting “House Painted with Flowers” for its collection.
Inspired by his two sons playing with the Lego building blocks, exhibits his “Lego” series at Tel-Aviv’s Gordon Gallery. Bineth Gallery refuses the Lego series and terminates its relation with Kovner.
Returns to Bineth Gallery in Tel-Aviv with an exhibition of his portraits of wife Mimi and friend Michal.
Expands from his tiny studio in family residence into a more spacious work area in Jerusalem’s north eastern neighborhood of Pisgat Zeev.
Exhibits at Bineth Gallery his series “Jerusalem Hills”. First major initiative of painting directly in nature.
– Exhibits at Bineth Gallery his follow-up series “Jerusalem Scenes”.
– Acquires a small two-room apartment in the Katamonim section of Jerusalem for a permanent studio space.
Exhibits at Bineth Gallery “A Girl in a Room”, painting his son’s young adolescent girl-friend.
Returns to landscape painting. Develops close friendship with artist Jan Rauchwerger. Touring together in Romania along with sculptor Zvi Lachman. Continues with Jan to London and then to Holland to view the Cezanne and Vermeer exhibits.
During this period is strongly effected by several family related tragedies, including the death of his father, poet Abba Kovner. He is thus preoccupied with death, which is fully explored in a series of paintings titled “Sataf” that have never been exhibited.
Bineth Gallery mounts an exhibition “End of ’95”, an exploration of the Beit Shean Valley – its reservoirs, fishponds, birds and cows.
Publishes a large catalogue of works, 1985-1995.
Exhibitions in New York, Washington D.C. and in New Haven, Connecticut.
Together with artist friend Jan Rauchwerger paints the port of Ashdod. The paintings are exhibited in Museums in Haifa and Ashdod.
Paints the golden landscape of his childhood at Kibbutz Ein-HaChoresh – orchards, haystacks and cows.
Exhibition at the Bineth Gallery is titled “Just Another Day”. Concurrent exhibits of these works are shown in Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv.
D.K. GraubArt (Jerusalem) publishes “Portscapes” and puts out a limited edition of etchings “Port”, interlaced with Hebrew poems about seaports.
Returns to the Beit Shean Valley; deals with the relationship between water and sky, and paints the fish ponds and reservoirs in a series entitled “Lakes”.
Jan Rauchwerger asks Kovner to share a studio in New York City, where he now works for three months each year.
Meir Ahronson, curator of The Museum of Israeli Art, Ramat Gan, suggests an exhibit of all works entitled “Landscape”.
Kovner began painting seascapes (the Mediterranean near Netanya) of the coast where he spent much of the free time during his childhood and youth. As a continuation of these seascapes he returned to the landscapes of his childhood on Kibbutz Ein Hahoresh (in the Sharon Valley near Netanya). The Kibbutz paintings brought the sights and smells of his childhood back to him. The connection to the Kibbutz would be a recurring theme with different variations in future works. In the years 2004-2006 he traveled to the area of Kibbutz Beit Alpha where his wife, Mimi Kovner, was raised in the Yizrael Valley in the foothills of the Gilboa mountains. It is the cradle of Zionist agricultural communities and central to the development of Zionist ideas formed by those who came and worked this land. While painting Wadi Tabor and Mt. Tabor he conceived the idea of a trilogy: "The sea, the valley and the mountain" to relate the story of Zionist fulfillment through physical labor. These works represent a personal journey through the land, the state and their perspectives as reflected in the soul of the painter. The trilogy was published in book form by the Museum of Art Ein Harod which also hosted his exhibit "Gilboa Tabor".
During this period Michael traveled for two months each summer to paint in his studio in New York. The studio was located in Long Island City just inside the border of Queens, New York. The fifth-floor studio featured a very large window looking out on an urban landscape that included the East River that would influence his paintings. His painting retained a Mediterranean flavor that Kovner sees an an integral part of his soul. During the period of 2002-2004 he was connected with an important gallery (Salander-O'Reilly) which subsequently declared bankruptcy. He incurred significant legal fees simply to retrieve his paintings.
In 2007 Michael brought a number of his New York Landscapes to the Bineth Gallery in Tel Aviv for a very successful exhibit.
Kovner continues traveling in Israel taking his canvases to the south. After two years of intensive work in the heat and harsh climate of desert winds at Sde Boker against the backdrop of Wadi Zin he showed these paintings at Ben Gurion University in an exhibit: "In the Presence of a Cliff".
He moves to new studio in Talpiot close to Bakkah were he live. When he moved to the new studio ( 100 sqm) he felt a great moment of happiness. In that year he had to live his studio in L.I.C the building that housed his studio was closed and he moved to a location in Bushwick, Brooklyn sharing studio space with a young sculptor, Avner Levinson, a friend of his son. During the years 2005-10 Kovner's son Amikam and his wife Nurit Zimmerman lived in Bushwick while Nurit was pursuing her doctorate in Law at NYU. The Bushwick neighborhood reflected the harsh reality of many who have lost hope in their future and in the world. At that time this studio was among the few in the neighborhood but at present (2013) the area has become one of the most dynamic art scenes in NYC.
The Jerusalem Artists' House Gallery gave a retrospective exhibit of Kovner's work: "Observation" 30 years of observing and painting landscape. At that time a book "Landscape Sketches" was published containing a number of charcoal studies from his personal drawing book. Michael had felt the need to present a comprehensive exhibit in Jerusalem, the city where he has lived and worked for nearly 40 years. He was always both socially and politically active in Jerusalem and had the feeling that the city was slowly loosing to Tel Aviv the best of the people with whom he was connected as a painter and friend both in his personal life and through his activities in the city. He wished to open a dialogue through this exhibit with the community of his peers in Jerusalem before much of it evaporated.
Kovner brings more recent New York paintings for a follow-up exhibition. The Bineth Gallery brought out a fine art's book of the whole collection accompanied by an article by the noted art historian Donald Kuspit.
Kovner exhibited (in JCC InManhattan NY) paintings from the Bushwick neighborhood and at this time his new graphic novel "Ezekiel's World" received a staged reading with illustrated scenes contained in this work. Although the graphic novel and the play garnered significant recognition nonetheless it received only one performance due to a misunderstanding regarding theater union contracts. In addition the Bushwick paintings failed to sell. His return to Israel was marked by a feeling of disappointment from the gap between exposure and an elusive success and his sense that little had been accomplished. Upon his return he was notified that the Binet Gallery, with whom he had worked for 34 years, had been closed.
Michael begins working on a series of pictures that he calls the "The Courtyard of the Kibbutz". A small number of these works were exhibited at the Bineth Gallery in a showing titled "Little Frames". He worked at a number of Kibbutz sites recording the unique character, form and environment of the central courtyard of the Kibbutz community. He painted for the first time in the medium of water colors and gouache, experimenting with smaller frames. An exhibit of these works is planned at the Museum of Art Ein Harod in 2015. It was during these years that he also complete writing and illustrating the graphic novel "Ezekiel's World". The book was released in a digital edition and can can be read on IPad, Kindle and similar technologies.
first grandchild (Lina) was born
Vitka Kempner his mother died
May - The New York studio was closed by its owners (since it was sold to real-estate developers), and Michael and his partner Avner Levinson had to leave. Michael moves his works to a storage house in Staten Island.
At the same time the Binneth Gallery in Tel Aviv was closed. Michael lost two important bases for his income.
May - the second grandson son of Amikam Emanuel (Manu) was born and first son of Nimrod Jonatan was born in August.
Michael signed an agreement with the Khan Theater on raising performance of "Ezekiel" based by the graphic novel that he wrote. Miki Gurevich took it upon himself to create and be the director of the play, but since he got sick he retired, and director Roni Ninio did the job beautifully and made it a wonderful theater play. "The World of Ezekiel" show's premiere date was March 14. Michael wants to publish his book for that date. He creates a "Headstart" fund raising project, with which he can make this precious book published.
The Abba Kovner's museum opened at Givat Haviva. Michael worked on this year in conjunction with the management of "Moreshet" people.. It is restored the working room of Abba Kovner and his living room and small exhibition on his life and work.March 2015
The premiere of the play "Ezekiel" was in the Khan Theatre. The play runs until the end of July and has received high praise both from the audience and the press
The book "The World of Ezekiel" published by "Cohel" publishing house .The Headstart fund raising project was very successful, and Michael has enough money to afford luxury book production. At the same time he joined 2 other writers and founded "Cohel" - a cooperative publishing house (4 participants at this point) that should be multidisciplinary (Literature, Philosophical Thought and Music). Two launch-book evenings were held in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to celebrate the opening for "Cohel".
The play "Ezekiel" came up in two and a half seasons it was discontinued because the religious representative of the Jerusalem municipality claimed to have libeled IDF soldiers.
Michael buys a large space in south Tel Aviv and in partnership with sculptor Avner Levinson, opens a gallery in south Tel Aviv. The name of the gallery is Maya Gallery. The purpose of this enterprise is to create a stage worthy for young artists at the beginning of their journey to exhibit there works. To give to artists from periphery a central place in Tel Aviv to display their work and to hold exhibitions that have a multi-generational dialogue.
In a short time, the gallery took up one of the most important places in the artistic space, and a large, high-quality audience came to the various exhibitions. This factory steals a lot of energy from Michael. It is based on a lot of small donors (most of them are his friends) and the issue of fundraising worries him and disturbs his peace of mind.
Michael participates in a big exhibition at Bochum of 6 Israeli and Palestinian-Israeli artists on family stories. Michael is given an entire floor for display. The exhibition is mainly about the book "The World of Ezekiel".
Beginning of 2020
At the beginning of 2020, a large exhibition was held at the Bochum Art Museum in Germany - "Family Stories". The exhibition was attended by 6 Israeli and Palestinian Israeli artists Michael was given an entire floor.
Michael traveled to Germany for a few days to plan the placement of his exhibition. But for the opening he did not go. The exhibition lasted about 3 months and attracted a wide audience from the area.
An exhibition at the in Ein Harod Museum. A comprehensive exhibition at the Ein Harod Museum "Gazing at parallel streams" curated by Dr. Galia Bar-Or.
Prior to the exhibition, a large book (210 pages) + a booklet called "Kibbutz courtyard" was published. The book spreads out to the reader all the pictures from the Kibbutz Yard series.
The exhibition consisted of two series by Ezekiel and the Kibbutz Yard
Ezekiel presented the graphic novel "The World of Ezekiel" in a variety of different forms and media (prints. Makta. Acrylic works on paper and video work from the play Ezekiel.)
In the kibbutz yard, large-scale works from 7 different kibbutzim were displayed, which Michael painted for about 5 years.
The exhibition was supposed to continue for about 4 months but after two months it closed due to the Corona plague and opened in March for only 3 weeks.
In the first months it was a huge success. It was visited by about 15,000 people. It was covered in all the newspapers and in the program that is considered on Channel 11 by Kobi Meidan "Cultural Agent"
The interruption of the exhibition caused great disappointment in Michael and he struggled with the museum's management to persuade them to exhibit for additional months. His struggle was a partial success and the exhibition opened in March for only 3 weeks
The exhibition attracted many people who responded to it with great emotional intensity.