Blue and Yellow, 2011, oil on linen,  28x43 cm (11x17 inch) Blue and Yellow, 2011, oil on linen,  28x43 cm (11x17 inch) Blue and Yellow, 2011, oil on linen, 28x43 cm (11x17 inch) (Photo: Ridley Howard)

Artists attempt to paint the invisible

New show unites painters who make the invisible visible.

Any parent can tell you part of the job description is having difficult – sometimes impossible – questions posed to you. For Guy Yanai, this is especially true.

Does the sea have a door? Is there a house with no rooms? Are there words without letters? These are just a few of the questions he attributes to his young son Romy.

But as the questions mounted, it got Yanai, an artist living in Tel Aviv, Israel, thinking. "I wanted to know if it was indeed possible to have form without a structure," he told From The Grapevine. In other words, he wanted to explore the extent to which he and his painter peers could communicate through their paintings. Is it possible to have a language that is strictly visual?

Unsure of the answer, Yanai was more than happy to use the question as inspiration for a show he was organizing. "Words Without Letters" is that show. Now running at the Alon Segev Gallery in Tel Aviv, it features a handful of renowned American and Israeli artists.

Guy Yanai, Bye Torino, 2014-15, oil on linen, 148x120 Guy Yanai, Bye Torino, 2014-15, oil on linen, 148x120 (Photo: Elad Sarig)

Yanai reached out to American artists Ridley Howard and Ted Gahl by email. "I've wanted to show with Ridley Howard for a long time, so here was a perfect reason, and I've loved Ted Gahl's work for a long time also." The two responded enthusiastically to the overture.

He held the other two participants in high regard as well. Gideon Rubin, an Israeli based in London, has had his work shown throughout Europe and the United States. The Israel-based Avner Ben-Gal is something of a mentor to Yanai, so he seemed a natural inclusion.

Yanai isn't able to say what qualities it is he looked for in each work. He went with his gut, choosing the work of artists who "spoke" to him.

"This was a very intuitive process. There wasn't any deep conceptual thinking that went into it," he said.

Ted Gahl, Exploding Necktie Trick (Commuter by Cab), 2015, acrylic, ink, colored pencil on canvasTed Gahl, Exploding Necktie Trick (Commuter by Cab), 2015, acrylic, ink, colored pencil on canvas, 35.5x28 cm (Photo: Halsey McKay Gallery)

Yanai's show opened earlier this month and runs through October. It has already attracted the interest and plaudits of an international audience.

The well-respected galerie Torri, in Paris, has asked him to bring the show there once this current iteration wraps. He plans on calling it "A House With No Rooms," and it will include a new set of artists who create equally captivating work.

Summer Lager, 2015, oil on linen, 15x15 cm (6x6 inch)Ridley Howard, Summer Lager, 2015, oil on linen, 15x15 cm (6x6 inch) (Photo: Ridley Howard)

As to the earlier question about form sans structure, Yanai still isn't certain of the answer – or if there even is one. But he's having a lot of fun trying to figure it out.

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