Born in 1958, Yigal Ozeri is an Israeli artist based in New York City. He is a ‘photo-realist’ painter, in particular of beautiful women in landscapes. A veteran of many international exhibitions, his paintings feature in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, the Jewish Museum of New York, The Israel Museum, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and the Albertina in Vienna.
His emphatically romantic subjects mine a seam of closely-related female characters. They allude to an art-historical cast list of classical nymphs, dryads, Botticelli goddesses and Pre-Raphaelite muses. His sylph-like models are contemporary iterations of such enduring archetypes, strategically placed in evocative settings.
The paintings are virtuoso displays of rigorously-controlled technique, intended to bring about an appearance of intense and compelling realism. Ozeri pays careful attention to the soft tonalities of the body, the subtleties of drapery, the play of both diffused and focussed light across form and landscape and the rendering of the variegated textures of surface. These are images of someone immediately present; the artist’s meticulously-crafted recreation of a snapshot moment insistently demands our attention.
The painter appears to capture his subject at an outwardly ephemeral and fleeting point in time, nevertheless one that is alluring and sensuous. We detect a pause, the pulse is stilled, motion is suspended and we gaze forensically at the painting (the model sometimes gazes back, with an air of cool regard or counter-interrogation). At this point all kinds of questions and curiosities arise. Are these simply highly accomplished portraits or are these women also allegorical figures?
Yigal Ozeri’s work articulates the attractions of the transient fragility of the human form. His painstaking practice translates it into something immanently ‘real’, preserving a record of that which passes too quickly.