Appearing like pixilated images, brightly coloured weavings or even needlepoint, Guy Yanai’s oil on linen paintings depict simplified interpretations of the everyday painted in meticulously applied strokes of colour. From pot plants to sail boats, the artist paints ordinary still life subjects and sun-soaked landscapes but in a way that makes them current, gliding the brush across the canvas, one line at a time.
Titled ‘Ancienne Rive’, the young Israeli artist’s latest solo exhibition, opening 9 July at Ameringer McEnery Yohe in New York, showcases a collection of brand new works. ‘I really like the way these two words feel,’ says Yanai of the show’s title. ‘There is a lot of blue and water in all the works and all the paintings are deeply rooted in the contemporary context, yet somehow speak to the old, to the ancient. And of course edges, I'm obsessed with edges, both in painting and with people.’
Inspired by the Mediterranean climate and vegetation of his native Tel Aviv among many other things – ‘films, people, experiences’, Yanai’s use of bold blocks of colour and sunny coastal scenes has led to comparisons with Hockney – in particular his paintings of Californian homes and pools. ‘I pay homage [to Hockney] in a very personal way though,’ says Yanai. ‘I put my own memory and experience on top of some idealistic image of his,’ adding, ‘sometimes things aren't what they seem. In that way maybe the colour is a decoy for something else, to lure the viewer in at first.’
In the past, his multilayered approach has caught the eye of the fashion world, resulting in crossover collaborations with US label Band Of Outsiders on its 2014 resort collection and a skateboard for New York fashion brand Woodpoint & Kingsland in 2013. ‘Collaborating with different fields and different projects is something that I like,’ enthuses Yanai. ‘I get to work with other people - not so normal in the studio routine - and see results that could have never happened alone.’