Dedicated to Ido
Graphic Design: Even Eli Printing Production: Even Eli Studio Printing: Kal Press, Tel-Aviv Paintings Photography: Ran Erde ÂŠBernard Gallery
Printed in Israel - February 2007
galerie vieleers 170 Ben Yehuda St. Tel-Aviv, 63403 Israel. Tel: 972-3-5270547, Fax: 972-3-5246890 E-mail: email@example.com www.bernard-gallery.com
contemporary figurative art Herenstraat 23, 1015 bz Amsterdam Tel: +31206232495, Fax: +31206206288 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org www.vieleers.nl
Born in Herzliya
1993 - 1994
Studied Anatomy for the Arts with the Painter Oswald Adler.
Studied at Bezalel, Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem.
Studied Painting and Drawing with the Painter Abraham Bykov.
1990 - 1996
Freelance Illustrator for Book Publishers, Magazines, Advertising Agencies and the Newspapers Maariv and Davar.
1996 - 2001
Yediot Tikshoret Magazine Network, Home Illustrator.
2002 - 2003
Maariv Newspaper, Home Caricaturist.
One man Exhibition 2004
Amnon David Ar - Painting, Exhibition and Catalog, The Museum of Israeli Art, Ramat Gan.
Drawings and Several Paintings, Exhibition and Catalog, Bernard Gallery, Tel Aviv.
Paintings and Drawings, Exhibition and Catalog, Galerie Vieleers, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Group Exhibitions 1998
Group Exhibition, Bat Yam Art Museum.
Group Exhibition, Bezalel, Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem.
Observation Time, Exhibition and Catalog, Janco Dada Museum, Ein Hod.
Portraits, Tel Aviv Museum of Art.
Group Exhibition, Exhibition and Catalog, The Museum of Israeli Art, Ramat Gan. Group Exhibition, The Jerusalem Center for the Performing Arts.
New Faces, Forum Gallery, New York, N.Y., U.S.A.
Live and work in Tel Aviv
Still Life, 2006, Oil on canvas, 50.5 x 42 cm.
Something of a Renaissance of figurative painting is
going on at the moment, and painters from Israel are playing an important role in this development. A factor which might help to explain this phenomenon is the substantial immigration into Israel of traditionally trained artists from the former Soviet Union, who imported their skills in realistic painting and were a source of inspiration and knowledge for younger artists. It may be relevant in this respect that one of Israel’s leading figurative painters, Amnon David Ar, has also received part of his training from artists who emigrated from countries in Eastern Europe.
lthough Amnon David Ar (born 1973) has been trained as an artist at the Arts and Crafts Municipal Highschool in Tel Aviv and the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem, he considers himself more or less an autodidact as to painting and drawing. Or rather: he has trained himself in a very traditional way, namely by studying with older artists. His teachers were Oswald Adler for anatomy and Abraham Bykov for painting and drawing. The ‘official’ academic training curriculum proved to be insufficient in offering him the skills and knowledge he was looking for, so he decided to organize his own training program. By teaching traditional painting and drawing techniques to pupils of his own, he aims at maintaining the artistic skills of the past and conveying his experience to a future generation of artists.
2. Self portrait, 2002, Oil on canvas, 41 x 33 cm.
n a recent self-portrait (fig. 1) we see the artist at work, standing at an easel in his studio in Tel Aviv, holding a brush and surrounded by the tools of his trade. The prominent position of the easel – which reminds us of Rembrandt’s small ‘Artist in His Studio’ in Boston, or perhaps even more of Velazquez’ ‘Las Meninas’ in Madrid – immediately tells us that this is not a simple, straightforward self-portrait. In fact, like in Rembrandt’s painting of 1628, the easel, rendered in great detail as to its construction and material texture, seems to be the main subject of the painting. It could be interpreted as an allegory of painting, in which the unusual studio-props in the background may also have a symbolical meaning, the exercise-bicycle, for instance, symbolizing the necessary training for the artist to reach his goal, and the crucifix on the wall serving as a reference to the suffering along the way to get there.
3. Head of a camel, 2003-2004, Oil on canvas, 31 x 41 cm.
In another self-portrait, painted in 2002, we see Ar
from behind, naked, looking at the beholder, ready to put a brush on what seems to be a Piet Mondrian painting (fig. 2). On closer inspection the Mondrian painting looks more like a window through which light enters the room, shaping the contours and the volume of the artist’s face and body. The Mondrian composition, thus reduced to a decorative object, is echoed in the painting as a whole, but its strict order is confronted emphatically with the irregularities of visual reality, for instance by the contrast between the heavenly white squares in the window and the smudgy, stained plaster on the wall surrounding it. This self-portrait of Ar in the nude may be interpreted as a half-ironical, half-serious statement by the artist on his attitude towards abstract art, as epitomized by Mondrian’s lines and squares: abstract art may be nice as a decorative art, but it is not able to capture the naked truth and pictorial riches of real life.
e find the same contrast between geometrical order and the irregular shape and texture of an object from real life in a beautiful still-life from 2003-2004 with a camel’s skull leaning on a small black cube (fig. 3). Ar evidently prefers the painterly qualities of objects which have lost their perfect shape and show signs of wear and tear (fig. 4). In the way he renders and shapes objects by the subtle use of light and colour we recognize the true painter, addicted, so to speak, to visual reality and permanently analyzing the rich variety of forms he observes. His landscapes and city views, in which old bikes, cars and boats are prominent pictorial elements, bear testimony to the same artistic spirit (fig. 5).
4. Vanitas, 1999, Oil on canvas, 60 x 50 cm.
Ar’s exceptional skill in rendering form and texture
manifests itself particularly in his marvellous nudes (fig. 6). Depiction of the human flesh has always been one of the great challenges for a painter. In the 17th century, painters and their assistants knew exactly which pigments had to be mixed on the palette to achieve convincing flesh tones on their canvases: these mixtures consisted of lead white, light ochre, organic yellow, vermilion, red lake, red ochre, terre verte, umber and coal black. Depending on the age and gender of the portrayed person, or the depicted part of the body, different mixtures were used. It was a kind of alchemy, with recipes passing from one master to another in the studio. Although things are a lot easier now thanks to the availability
5. Landscape, 2001, Oil on panel, 25 x 50 cm.
of a wide range of colours from tubes, the rendering of the human body still is an artistic speciality which – especially nowadays – only a few painters really master. Ar is definitely one of them: his nudes are modeled so delicately, and the texture of their skin is rendered in such a convincing way, that they really come to life on the canvas (fig.7).
Some of Ar’s nudes have been portrayed in classical
postures, but most of them are just lying or sitting in a seemingly non-deliberate, natural way, sometimes with their legs cut off by the edge of the picture, thus enhancing the beholder’s impression of watching a slice of reality. These nudes, staring at you with their serious look, give you the uneasy sensation of intruding into their privacy, of being a voyeur, which of course is exactly what the artist, in his attempt at capturing real life, wants us to experience in front of the painting.
6. Nude, 1997, Oil on canvas, 50 x 80 cm.
Amnon David Ar is a virtuoso portrait painter, who
succeeds in evocating the personality of the people he portrays (fig. 8). Apart from being realistic depictions of the physiognomy of the sitters, his portraits are veritable studies in human psychology. Again we feel like a voyeur by watching these introspective people in their most private moments of thought. Contemplation is one of the most difficult emotions for an artist to portray. If it is not done in an intelligent, empathic way, even the most superficial beholder will immediately sense that the emotional qualities of the portrait are fake. Rembrandt was one of the great masters in portraying people in a contemplative mood. In order to be able to render the whole variety of human emotions, he incessantly studied his own face in the mirror, sketching his own physiognomy while laughing, looking angry or filled with grief. Ar not only follows Rembrandt’s footsteps in his preference for portraying contemplative people, he is also an extremely prolific painter of self-portraits. These selfportraits form a special category within Ar’s oeuvre, and one that contains only masterpieces. Especially his drawn self-portraits – Ar is one of the great draughtsmen of our time – demonstrate his unique capacity to capture both the outside and the inside of people’s heads (fig. 9).
ooking closely once again at the recent self-portrait of the artist in his studio (fig. 1), we can only marvel at Ar’s
8. Portrait, 2003, Oil on panel, 32.5 x 31 cm.
pictorial intelligence as to suggesting light and atmosphere in his paintings. Our impression that the easel is a solid, three-dimensional object standing in a real, convincing space results from Arâ€™s meticulously studying the fall of light on objects and his subtle use of related tones in order to define forms that are receding or protruding in space. We may see this self-portrait as a tribute to the art of painting, which, thanks to painters like Ar, will always remain the most powerful means to capture the ever-changing richness of visual reality. Dr. Bob van den Boogert Curator of the Rembrandt House Museum, Amsterdam
1. Self-Portrait, Oil on canvas, 63.5 x 48 cm.
7. Male Nude - Ofir, 2006, Oil on canvas, 62 x 100 cm.
9. Self portrait, 1999, Graphite on paper, 68.5 x 48.5 cm.
Untitled, 2005, Oil on panel, 50 x 33 cm.
Self-Portrait, 2005 - 2006, Oil on masonite, 36 x 46 cm.
Head of a Camel, 2003 - 2004, Oil on canvas, 31 x 41 cm. 14
Guy, 2006, Oil on canvas, 27 x 38 cm .
Untitled, 2005, Oil on canvas, 20 x 27 cm. 15
Self-Portrait, 2005, Oil on panel, 34.5 x 26.5 cm. 16
Gili, 2006, Oil on canvas, 63 x 48 cm. 17
Male Nude - Ofir, 2006, Oil on canvas, 62 x 100 cm. 18
Self-Portrait, 2005 Pencil on paper, 36 x 37.5 cm. Private Collection. 19
Untitled, 2005, Oil on canvas, 72 x 62 cm. 20
Untitled, 2006, Oil on panel, 51 x 34 cm. 21
A Colleague, 2006, Oil on panel, 49 x 37 cm. 22
Portrait, 2005, Oil on panel, 50 x 33 cm. 23
Untitled, 2006, Oil on canvas, 46 x 60 cm. 24
EcorchĂŠ, 2006, Oil on panel, 40 x 30 cm. 25
Untitled, 2006, Oil on canvas, 42 x 50 cm. 26
Untitled, 2006, Oil on panel, 37.5 x 34 cm.
Ajax, 2005, Oil on panel 50 x 33 cm. 27
Yuri, 2005-6, Pencil on paper, 69 x 56 cm. 28
Self-Portrait, 2006, Oil on canvas, 63.5 x 48 cm. 29
Street view, 2006, Oil and mixed media on panel, 34 x 51 cm. 30
War Scene, 2006, Oil on panel, 40 x 30 cm.
Portrait, 2005, Oil on canvas, 50 x 40 cm.
Exercycle, 2005, Pencil on paper, 58 x 49.5 cm. 32
Commander Y. Harel & his Daughter Lady S. Harel, 2006, Oil on canvas, 93 x 72 cm. Private Collection. 33
Donald Duck, 2005, Watercolor on paper, 36 x 26 cm. 34
Art Catalogue, designed & produced for "Bernard Gallry" for an exhibition of the Israeli artist Amnon David Ar in 2007