Guy Yanai Returns to Miles McEnery Gallery NYC
New York City is the "undisputed center of the art world," maintains Guy Yanai, who returns to Miles McEnery Gallery for a third solo exhibition, September 5, through October, 5, 2019. "More than pressure, it's excitement at the opportunity because the show has to be my best, most ambitious work."
Looking at the showcase as a potential milestone, Yanai has designed an extensive body of work that encompasses varying formats and scales, some for the first time. "Honestly, size came first because I built the show to scale of the gallery. I wanted larger pieces, so I started with two works at 180 by 200 cm and another at 160 by 190 cm. Then I added sizes that are a real part of my practice, such as 150 by 120, 180 by 140, 150 by 180, and smaller works of 40 by 30."
In addition to working with favorite imagery, such as pots and sailboats, Yanai's new exhibition includes previously unseen motifs, and though a shift in process, it has resulted in arguably his most exciting selection of work for a solo show. "Being creative every day is hard. There is this beauty in iterations, which I obviously love so much, but I want new imagery here, so all the large works have this 'entering into the unknown' quality for me."
Throughout his career, the Tel Aviv-based artist has developed a recognizable visual language that adopts the ambiance of modernist masters such as Matisse and Cézanne, though with a very contemporary technique. "The selection of the imagery is kind of like 'noncoherent alchemy'. Somehow, the way I paint makes it feel intelligible." Yanai paints from memory, of a place, moment or feeling, stacking up short and consistent brushstrokes that dimunize his subjects to pixelated forms. Forcing the final outcome to depend on every brushstroke he lays on the canvas, Yanai creates "such tension that, if you take out one brushstroke, the painting will collapse.”
The show is accompanied by a beautifully illustrated book featuring an essay by Dr. Ara H. Merjian, prompting an animated Yanai to enthuse, "The catalog really captures the show and, thankfully, it will be around much longer than the show." –Sasha Bogojev