Last week I wrote about an artist that caught my attention in Artrio, Adriana Duque, but it was not only with her work I was impressed, the mega realistic paintings of Yigal Ozeri made me gape. And researching deeper in his work I found even more fascinating.
Yigal Ozeri was born in Tel Aviv,Israel, but lives and works in New York. Ozeri is acclaimed for his hyper-realistic large-scale cinematic portraits of young woman together or alone often naked or semi-naked in lush landscapes under expansive skies. When I first came upon his work I could have sworn on my life that it was a photograph.
The essence of Ozeri’s paintings is the performative and psychological aspects they take on, ultimately breaking through the veils of perception and illusion into raw, tactile reality itself.
There is an uncanny presence in these images, a spirit or charge of the human presence that saturates the pictures, which is revealed by the detail and tiny brushwork in which Ozeri renders these young women. This presence is the hidden essence of his work, and marks Ozeri’s special insight, and the psychological atmosphere of his endeavor. Ozeri seeks to touch the anima, Carl Gustav Jung’s concept of the powerful feminine archetype that resides in the unconscious, the driving force underlying all creative potential. The delicate moods that Ozeri achieves are result of this desire, beginning as a dialogue that has the immediacy of a Polaroid, taking place between the artist and model in an interdisciplinary, collaborative environment reminiscent of Warhol’s Factory.
Ozeri’s work goes through several stages. At first, he photographs his models – not professional, he emphasizes. Sometimes he manipulates the photo into Photoshop, enhancing contrasts and colors. Then it prints the image and copies it on paper, finally doing oil painting. In this last phase, because it is hyper-realistic paintings with many details, he uses ten assistants, although the most difficult parts – such as face and hair – he paint himself.
About the use of assistants, he says: “They are like the Renaissance artists used. Van Eyck, Velazquez, Leonardo, Rubens – they all wore assistants. They were as directors. Go to the Metropolitan Museum, the best picture there is one where Van Eyck he used 25 assistants. E is the best because they all did their best. “
About the accusations of his detractors, who come in their paintings fashioned romanticism, Ozeri said: “I’m not afraid of the word romanticism, and that’s what I bring back to painting. The art world is full of violence, death of repulsive things, and I bring the romance back. Show real people who live in the wild, without malice, people who need nothing but love, this is more radical than go take pictures in Iraq. “
Yigal Ozeri has exhibited extensively throughout Israel, Europe and the United States, and his work can be found in many prominent collections, including Albertina Museum, Vienna; Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, Westchester; Kennedy Center for the Arts, Washington DC; McNay Art Museum, San Antonio; Nerman Museum, Kansas City; Scheringa Museum of Realist Art, Netherlands; Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel; and The Jewish Museum, New York. The artist lives and works in New York City.