PRESS / 2011

Oren Eliav featured in the Art Economist


The Art Economist – ARTIST TO WATCH


Eliav recently won a prestigious Rappaport Prize, awarded annually

to a promising young Israeli painter by the Tel Aviv Museum of

Art (one other goes to an established painter), and as a result was

honored with an exhibition at the museum. As an artist interested in

how the whispers of the past echo in our collective cultural memory,

perhaps there is no better place to have been born and raised than in

Israel, where ancient history becomes part of the fabric of daily life.

But this young artist is equally engaged in illuminating the modern

experience of time: “I’m trying to construct a haunted present,” Eliav

says. He does so by using the formal properties of paint as a conceptual

tool; in his art, historical objects are rendered in thick or

deliberate brushstrokes that also maintain an autonomous identity as

paint, so his works are about both the object and the act of painting.

By layering patterns or smears over loosely rendered subjects (thereby

obscuring or negating them), the tension between realism and abstraction

resonates. Admitting to a painterly “lust for ornamentation,”

he conjures up the aesthetic flamboyance used in the Baroque period

to signify grandeur and inspire religious feeling. Some believe that

such artistic overabundance obscures that sublime purpose and leads

only to visual seduction. Eliav paints through these fine lines of distinction,

and he says that the tension between doubt and faith is the

true focus of his work. Eliav lives in Tel Aviv, the same city where he

was born in 1975, and quickly has gained a respected reputation in a

thriving contemporary art scene. The Braverman Gallery, representing

an impressive roster of cutting-edge artists, including Eliav, offered

a one-person show in 2010. That same year, he was included in the

Liverpool Biennial, his first international exhibition after receiving an

MFA from Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Tel Aviv. During his

BFA studies at Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem, he spent an exchange

year at Cooper Union, New York. With such powerful work, this

artist to watch will soon gain international attention. –KWT