Contemporary painting is usually characterized by the specific stylistic orientation of an artist; however, it is not that rare that one’s artistic practice is a mix of different formal and conceptual persuasions. Take for instance the Israeli born, New York-based artist Nir Hod, who manages to express himself through both figuration and abstraction.
Sexual ambiguity, androgyny, identity, narcissism, and lost innocence are among the central themes that Hod explores through his paintings and sculptures. In the last two decades, the artist has received critical acclaim in the international context for his unique artworks exhibited in Europe, Asia, Israel, and the United States, and some of them can be found in the permanent collections of The Jewish Museum, The Israel Museum, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, and in numerous private collections.
Currently on display at Kohn Gallery in Los Angeles is the first West Coast solo exhibition of Nir Hod's work under the title The Life Left Behind.
Driven by the 19th-century anecdote of the famous art dealer Duveen who claimed that newly varnished surfaces of the Raphaels and Rembrandts he sold to the industrial moguls at the time were so highly reflective that they would see their own reflection in these Old Masters, Hod created a new series that takes in consideration the presence of the viewer on the reflective surface of the painting. The artist emphasized his approach:
The viewer’s reflection is mirrored back and they become part of the artwork. They position themselves in the painting and create their own distracted image, and the viewer metaphorically becomes the subject of the painting. In the age of social media, the idea and exploration of narcissism are ever more relevant.
For this exhibition, Hod produced a series of abstract paintings based on a chroming technique initially developed by the US navy in 1939. The elaborate process starts from a heavily gradient layer, then contining with the degradation with water, ammonia, air pressure and various acids, to enable the creation of unexpected surface as a result of the industrial applications and age-old oil techniques mix.
The exhibited sculpture titled I will always wait for you even if you never come back is the manifestation of the same approach but in a different form.
All the works are the artist’s reflection of the contemporary moment as he articulates the fragility of things that easily transform into something new. The mentioned process and the materials were used to symbolize the idea that life is a memory, while the whole installment tends to articulate the notion of abandonment and escalation.
Along with this exhibition, Hod’s works are currently displayed at the Jewish Museum in New York and the Sara Hilden Art Museum in Finland.
Nir Hod; The Life Left Behind will be on display at Kohn Gallery in Los Angeles until the end of August 2020.
Featured image: Nir Hod - The Life We Left Behind, Installation views at Kohn Gallery, 2020. Courtesy the artist and Kohn Gallery.
Los Angeles, United States of America