In recent years, we have had the pleasure of meeting pictures of Guy Yanai abroad that have impressed and sustained us. We are all the more pleased to announce the first solo exhibition of Guy Yanai in Germany after successful exhibitions in New York and Los Angeles as well as in Paris and London.
The motif of the invitation to the exhibition, a view of the pool side of the hotel La Colombe d ‘0r in St. Paul de Vence with its famous restaurant, is one of the mystical places of 20th century art. Up to now it is an important milestone for every art lover on his travels. Opened in 1931 in the mountains of the Cote d’Azur, it soon became a popular place for those artists who had a significant influence on the art of the 20th century. Besides Marc Chagall, who lived in the neighborhood, Matisse, Picasso, Braque, Signac, Soutine and Léger were frequent guests. Later came famous celebrities like Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, Orson Welles, Brigitte Bardot and many others. This impressive collection of celebrities justifies to our days the allure and attraction of the place. The artists created unique commissioned works for the site those were acquired by the owner family and can still be seen there our days. Works of art disappeared and have returned in a mysterious way. Meanwhile their value is so immense that they can not be insured at their original locations. All this brings about the attraction and the promise of participation in the great past. The large Calder sculpture, one of his most famous mobiles, which can be seen in the picture of Yanai, dates back to the early Fifties. It is placed by the pool and can be found on a variety of photographs.
After the choice of the subject questioned, the artist replies with a kind of smile:
“Vacations are almost better before you are actually in it, fantasy and the preparation are sometimes much more rewarding than the trip itself. Maybe this is the reason for the « mythical » hotel of La Colombe d’Or, which is certainly half a tourist trap living off of the legend of artists. But when I saw that Calder there, I knew I had to paint it. “
Yanai’s motifs, which remind us of something that in reality has never existed in this way, convey an ambiguous promise. More focused formulated, these are images of longing. Which can emerge from dream experiences of the artist – the exhibition title « Boy on an Iceland » refers to such, or from found images. The individual iconography of Yanai does not include priority elitist places like the Colombe d’Or but popular objects such as sailboats, which promise carefree leisure, or potted plants which enliven as decoration anonymous places more or less successfully.
Not insignificant is also the closing remark of the above quotation, which reads: « I knew I have to paint it. » It allows the conclusion that Yanai thinks above all in colors. The intensive color is counteracted by the controlled brushwork. This special constellation gives the paintings their uniqueness. His painting technique is formally conclusive and of high recognition. He applies the color « alla prima” in a continuous painting process. The brush is guided in the respective color fields as far as possible parallel. The pasty oil paint throws a bead on the edges of the paint track, giving the painting a relief-like surface. As a result, his painting is extremely tectonic. « Almost as if built with Lego bricks » – as a viewer as naively as aptly noted. The tension between the provocative austerity of the brushstroke and the joyful promise of salvation of his motifs may be irritating at first, but then dissolves as easily as a laugh eliminates tensions. It has been our experience that when you engage with Yanai’s art, you will discover a painterly ability that makes further comments unnecessary.
Conrads, February 2018