Ra'anan Levy, Israeli (1954 - )

Ra'anan Levy

Ra'anan Levy is an Israeli artist born in 1954 into a Syrian-Jewish family which left Damascus in several waves. His grandfather was editor-in-chief of a Syrian newspaper.

Born in Israel, Ra'anan Levy studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence and printmaking at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Progressing in series, Levy followed his first Sink canvases (1976) by Sewer Drains, Common Objects, Spaces, and also more classic themes by Nudes and Portraits. Winner of the Eugene Kolb award for engraving, he demonstrated his expertise of the craft in his Self Portraits of galling dimensions. Sinks and Spaces follows two immensely successful Ra'anan Levy retrospectives: The Double Room at the Musée Maillol, in Paris where he lives and works, and The Poetics of Space at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

By questioning the obvious, Ra'anan Levy creates a world that seems to literally come alive. His old master technique allows for a kind of painting in which every stroke reflects on the figurative, and where the inanimate conforms to human anatomy. Levy's stainless steel Sinks are smooth surfaces that conceal an invisible element, just as skin conceals the inside of the human body. Levy is by turns physician and painter: the desire to transfer the inside to the outside is the fundamental impulse that underlies his entire oeuvre.

Levy's allegorical process intensifies in Spaces. The eye believes what it sees, and what it sees is the alignment of a corridor that lays out various directions, a sort of descriptive literature of the private dwelling. An apartment offers a complex construction of vertical and horizontal lines that intersect or overlie one another. The empty, doleful, and deserted bears the traces of time, just like a photograph that freezes forever that which is only fleeting. But the wooden floors bear reddish traces, like physiological tissues with veins showing through them, while nervures seem to cross the grain of the wood. The walls, made out of plaster, look like bony cavities. Each new canvas is the pretext for a new journey into a world where optical illusions transform the mineral into the organic, while the vision of the empty space suggests the presence of an absent body.

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