What makes a great artist? Does it come from inspiration? Maybe it does. Does it come from what is around us? Perhaps. What we may never know is how the world is filled with such talented artists all over the world that are bending the rules of the simple word: art. Guy Yanai is one of those talented painters out there. AICF got the pleasure of learning about Guy’s inspirations and latest work.
1) What or who inspired you to want to be an artist?
It wasn’t that some specific event made me become an artist. It’s not a choice at all, and never has been, it’s something that I must do. If the work doesn’t come from an absolute necessity, it’s obvious. To make art, or for me to make art, there is a total sense of urgency, that this must be made here and now. The contradiction here is that for my work, I need to have a very disciplined studio practice where I work every day as long as possible. My earliest inspirations and influences were John Cage, Cy Twombly, Robert Rauchenberg, and John Zorn. This is at about age 16. In my early 20’s I discovered the early Renaissance painters Masaccio, Giotto, and Piero della Francesca. Then Matisse. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to see a lot of their work in the flesh. In the past few years I haven’t really looked at painting. I’ve been looking at life: women, films, fashion, online, cities, books, experience, my children, etc … These are the things that I build my work with. Although, thinking about this question now, there was one night at the age of 15, when I realized that making art was what my life was going to be about, I was up all night working on a painting. In the morning I showed it to my mother and aunt.
2) What was your creative journey that has brought you to where you are in your career today?
The journey was of course riddled with many failures, frustrations, and walls to break down. After my studies I had an early success, then I got lost, really lost as to who I am. I figured this out slowly through working. To build this language that I am speaking in now took many years. I am also grateful to the collectors and supporters who believed in me and supported me during the more quiet years. This slow and awkward development is also something that I feel very lucky to have gone through, the ability to really make a mess, to really try different things all of time is a luxury.
3) What do you need as an artist today?
All I need is time and my studio. And of course the network of people who support my work, my dealer, my collectors, curators, close friends.
4) What creative project are you working on now?
I’m working on a bunch of projects now for 2012 and 2013. I have shows scheduled in Italy, Belgium, in the States, and of course here in Israel. I’m finishing a few large works that I’ve been working on for a while, they are really big and require a real sustained focus. One of them is of the interior of my therapist’s clinic; it’s called “Therapy.” Another is of my living room from the outside. I’m about to start a project of 20 works that are 40 x 40 cm, and 10 works that are 80 x 80 cm. One project that I’m really excited about is called “The Revenge.” Noam Segal from Rothschild 69 is curating it, and it’s something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time.
5) Where do you see yourself and your career in 10 years?
My main goal now is to build really strong foundations that will sustain and enlarge the studio practice. All I want is to be able to continue, and work. This involves some sort of planning. In 10 years I just want to have a fantastic studio structure set up, one that can support my ambitions.
6) What does it mean to you to be an Israeli artist?
It means that I work in a place that embodies many contradictions, a place that is alive and bubbling. I don’t look at art through a nationalistic lens. I do live and work in Tel Aviv though, and I like it. The plants are nice here, they excite me. In the summer it’s hot, in the winter it’s not that cold. There are so many amazing artists working here or that have come from here, so its always exciting.
It means so much. Having organizations that help artists is so crucial. We work without a set structure, and usually with limited resources. Having ‘homes’ like AICF makes things more cozy, a little less lonely, and give us a sense of community.