Guy Yanai’s pieces fuse the placid landscapes and still lives of traditional painting with a pixilated style inspired by retro computer graphics. His solo show Ancienne Rive at the Ameringer McEnery Yohe gallery features fifteen new paintings in which Yanai uses fragmented stripes of color to demonstrate the interplay between the past, present, and future of art, as well as his own sense of displacement.
The Israeli artist, who received his MFA at Parsons in New York City and spent much of his life traveling, explores the alienation and rootlessness of constant flux. Many of his subjects are intentionally so commonplace that they do not connote any specific location. For example, Longing for What was Once Foreign, a boat sailing on placid water with a clear sky, could be anywhere, and Non-Mediterranean House is distinctly defined by where it is not. “It’s not really clear where they are, or what space they are,” says Yanai in an interview with T Magazine. “They’re nowhere, and in that sense it’s really a very synthetic kind of work.”
Ancienne Rive not only reflects Yanai’s personal history, it is also a comment on the role of painting in our increasingly digitized society. Ancienne Rive literally translates to “Ancient River” but the connotations of these French words give insight into the tone of the show. The French word “ancienne” translates to something that is old and traditional, and “rive” translates directly to river, but also colloquially means “edge.” Yanai’s work is truly on the edge of tradition, as he uses tried and true materials to depict the aesthetic of new technology.
“Painting can be so dated sometimes,” he said. The title of the show “is almost like, laughing at this.”
Like the shows title, there is something complex behind these simple, immediately discernible images. Yanai explained in an interview with The Chic that he aims to create images that “quickly ‘resonate’ with the viewer, but upon further looking become something else entirely.”
Ancienne Rive will be on display until August 14, so if you’re in NYC check it out, or follow him on social media to keep track of upcoming exhibits.