press release

The acclaimed Israeli artist Yigal Ozeri (Tel Aviv 1958) invites the viewer back to nature to celebrate freedom and sensuality in his realistic oil portraits of striking young women in beautiful natural surroundings in the solo exhibition Territory at the Martin Asbæk Gallery until 23 December 2011.

Yigal Ozeri works consistently with the theme of pure, innocent love. The transition from the young, vulnerable woman to the mature, sensual woman is explored in Ozeri’s photorealistic portrayals with an extraordinary richness of detail and an almost glowing character in the colours. The women are usually partly clothed but with a budding sensual aura and with strong references to the English Pre-Raphaelites, who were preoccupied with the nature study and a rendering that was as true to the details as possible.

The process

Over time Yigal Ozeri has developed friendships with the women portrayed. The women are photographed in natural surroundings such as Central Park in New York, where the artist has them act with complete naturalness to obtain the most realistic expression. Using a strong camera lens, he photographs the women from a certain distance; a distance that means that the women relax and merge with the landscape, so that the photographs reach in to the core and almost cross into the intimate sphere. The photographs are manipulated afterwards and in a few cases the light or the colour is changed before they are printed out and used as preliminary studies for the works, which are painted in oils on paper. Ozeri uses paper rather than canvas, since the surface of the paper absorbs the paint and creates more intense expression.

Romanticism or realism?

With the references to art history, there are clearly parallels with the kind of Romanticism that gives the emotions pride of place and associates them with either dramatic or idyllic undertones. But the artist does not romanticize the depiction of the women; he shows reality without beautification or idealization and stresses the factual and real. In a world that is dominated by violence and destruction, and an art world where many artists are being influenced and inspired by harsh reality, it almost becomes more radical and innovative for the artist Yigal Ozeri to turn the focus on something as simple as nature and the human being who quite fundamentally only needs love.

In close collaboration with the Mike Weiss Gallery in New York, it is a pleasure and honour for the Martin Asbæk Gallery to present the exhibition Territory, which is showing a number of watercolour sketches and nine works that are at once aesthetic, sensitive and extremely photorealistic. In connection with the exhibition the book Territory will be published, offering rare insight into the artist’s working process.

The artist

For the past twenty years Yigal Ozeri has lived and worked in New York. Ozeri has exhibited in Israel, Europe and the USA and is represented in many prominent private collections as well as museums.

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Yigal Ozeri