Mosaic Art Is ‘Like War – You Know How It Begins, but You Don’t Know How It Ends’

After COVID hit, newly unemployed tour guide Uzi Tauber, 68, discovered mosaics at his 130-meter Kfar Sava home

Kenan Reuveni
Kenan Reuveni
Tour guide turned mosaic artists Uzi Tauber poses next to his creations.
Tour guide turned mosaic artists Uzi Tauber poses next to his creations.Credit: Eyal Toueg
Kenan Reuveni
Kenan Reuveni

How did you end up in Kfar Sava?

“My wife and I are former kibbutzniks, and we came to Kfar Sava 40 years ago. We moved here from one apartment to another, until 25 years ago we bought the house in which we live, and we settled down here. At the time the building was considered a high-end project, with the walls covered with white mosaic tiles, but slowly but surely the mosaic tiles started to crumble and fall off.

“I’m a tour guide and a lecturer on tourism, and when COVID-19 broke out I became unemployed, so I had a lot of free time and decided to do something with the falling mosaics. We live on the top floor, and we have a 80-square-meter roof, so I started to decorate it with mosaic tiles. I put up a nice wall, and from there I was drawn into it and I started to create mosaic handicrafts and pictures.

Uzi Tauber's mosaic art.Credit: Eyal Toueg

“At the same time, I started to study with one of Israel’s leading mosaic artists, Nira Ben David, who gives me tips and advises me. Now I collect pieces of tiles from friends, take ceramic leftovers from factories, and buy materials, collect natural stones, and consult about the projects with my wife, who was an art teacher.

“The apartment has 4.5 rooms, with one room serving as ‘Uzi’s museum’ – where I store my projects. We also have lots of items in the house that I collected from my trips abroad, including a collection of masks and a large collection of Israeli art – I used to have an advertising business, and many artists paid me in artwork. So I both supported art and decorated with it. It’s not an insane and luxurious home, but there’s a colorful atmosphere here.”

Mosaic art.Credit: Eyal Toueg

How did you overcome the change forced on you by the coronavirus?

“All my life I’ve worked in tourism, and suddenly they moved my cheese – but fortunately I discovered other delicacies. Art is great therapy for me. My routine now begins at 5 to 6 A.M. I can’t sleep more than that, because my brain is buzzing with creative ideas. I put on earphones and begin the holy work of mosaics. It’s like war – you know how it begins, but you don’t know how it ends.

“Nowadays I also give lectures on tourism on Zoom, and that’s lots of fun, I still feel that I’m at my peak. I even have several trips planned this year, but who knows what will happen with them, with all the wars and pandemics in the world.”

'I built a wall out of everything that fell.'Credit: Eyal Toueg

What are the advantages and disadvantages of living here?

“We live in a good neighborhood in Kfar Sava – which is a pleasant, quiet and green city, with an excellent school system, and is also a city that embraces artists and art. It’s an urban life that’s semi-rural, and the Sharon area is a great start-off point for many trips.

“As a tour guide, when I’m in Europe I feel the differences compared to Israel. People there have a tendency to preserve their native landscape, and on the other hand in Israel people don’t know how to preserve the environment and the landscape. We’re still feeling our way.”

Uzi Tauber in his Kfar Sava home.Credit: Eyal Toueg

What are your insights from life here?

“Even when you live in Israel it’s impossible to ignore what’s happening in the world – the war in Ukraine gave us a punch to the gut, exposed the face of humanity and sent us backward 80 years.

'I can’t sleep more than that, because my brain is buzzing with creative ideas.'Credit: Eyal Toueg

“With the coronavirus, the climate crisis and the wealthy capitalists gaining control, it seems as though the world is steadily being destroyed and sliding down into a major catastrophe. I hope that we’ll wake up on time and address these dangers in our lives and the lives of our grandchildren, but I’m not optimistic. People today travel straight ahead without seeing nature and people, without any consideration.

'Art is great therapy for me.' Credit: Eyal Toueg

“I grew up on honesty, loyalty and patriotism, and I went through the Yom Kippur War – and I have no doubt that nowadays mankind has climbed up to a very high rung, and it will be hard to give it a ladder to get back down.”

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