Boat With No Sailors, 2015
Claire's Knee II, 2015
Sprinkler for Grandfather (After DH), 2015
Claire Climbing II, 2015
Last Splash, 2015
“Nowhere has so many advantages, [one is] able to grab and steal from everything,” observes Tel Aviv-based artist Guy Yanai, whose feelings of loneliness, foreign alienation, and sense of being both nowhere and everywhere at the same time result from spending time in numerous countries without feeling a particular connection to a geographic location.
Yet, despite this sense of rootlessness, Yanai has a deeper connection with the flux and flow of the creative life force. Ancienne Rive, an exhibition of fifteen new paintings by Guy Yanai, opens at Ameringer McEnery Yohe Galler, New York, on July 9, 2015 and will remain on view through August 14, 2015.
Ancienne Rive, Yanai’s debut New York exhibition, is accompanied by a catalogue, also titled Ancienne Rive, with texts by Cary S. Levine and Timothee Chaillou, designed by Aurore Chauve and published by Yanai and Chauve’s publishing house, Yundler Brondino Verlag.
Ancienne Rive, meaning “ancient river,” calls upon ideas of history, authenticity, and something with deep roots. The artist draws inspiration from Old Masters’ paintings and everyday products to current issues of contemporary culture, resulting in large paintings with bold colors and sharpened shapes, and causing the distance through simplification and detachment with a whimsical undertone.
The commonplace, everyday subjects depicted in the artist’s work directly reflect his idea of being rootless. These seemingly disposable subjects suggest that he is disenchanted by the throwaway nature of modern day society. Yet, there is a beauty in the simplicity and naiveté to his paintings.
Yanai speaks with The Chic about his life in art. He observes, “In a way I always knew that art is all I wanted to do. In fact the hardest thing was facing this, and not being scared of it. I had a big fight with the art teacher in high school, and kind of got thrown out, so I entered this great private school, very liberal. There I was introduced to John Cage, de Kooning, Rauschenberg, Chris Burden. So my eyes were open at the age of 16, the trouble was keeping them open.”
Speaking about the work created for Ancienne Rive, Yanai reveals, “The concept behind the exhibition focuses on edges, and the meeting of. Land meeting water. space between entities. Deviously simple images that are a decoy to something else. To the invisible that is behind the visual. The aim in this show is to create images that burn in the viewers mind. After a few years of dealing with the ‘irreconcilable’ in painting, these works are more about works that quickly ‘resonate’ with the viewer, but upon further looking become something else entirely. Exploring art history, visual culture, the nature of paint and painting, and the ‘hand’ in the post internet age of art.”
The artist further makes reference to the inspirations that have influenced his work. He notes, “One of the images that has been around me for a long time is Fra Angelico's Noli Me Tangere [“Touch Me Not”] fresco. The main anchor of the show, Ancienne Rive is directly based on that work. I wanted to see where I could take it.
“I love now. I love our age. It is really the best time to be alive, I feel. So, alongside 650 year-old frescoes, I look at everything around us: a screen, a tree, a plant, a film, a political event, a Tumblr blog—anything really. The main job an artist has now is to be able to edit how we look.”
Yanai discusses the challenges of creating work exclusively for the exhibition. He observes, “The rhythm of building a body of work is very particular and strange. All of the works were made together, in one room, where they were all being worked on simultaneously. They are, in a way, one incoherent group. There is a momentum, though.
“Once I finished the large work Ancienne Rive, everything fell into place. I knew where to take what and where to put what. To really put together an exhibition, something that is greater than just a few paintings, I really tried to let the work define itself, to let the group edit itself, to not get in the way. This demands a rigorous studio routine, to just be in the studio as much as possible. There are always the external parameters, the gallery space, shipping, et cetera, but I also try to transcend those in the simplest way possible. It’s a real human process with sparks and failures. I knew that I wanted a lot of water and blue throughout the whole show. The idea of where land and water meet—that edge. This work is really about edges meeting edges, in every way that you can imagine.”
Artwork courtesy of Guy Yanai
Ancienne Rive at Ameringer McEnery Yohe Gallery
Curated by Miss Rosen
Non Mediterranean House, 2015
Miracle Sicily Bye, 2015
Restrained Splash Bye, 2015
Yves on Polke, 2015