Intricate Affinities: Recollections of Western Tradition in Local Contemporary Art

Curator: Smadar Sheffi 15.9.2016 - 24.12.2016

The initial, amiable impression made by Nadav Naor's puffed-cheek figures cracks as one reveals that it is a recurring face. The repetition violates the portrait's customary reading as unique, altering the discussion of affiliation and individualism, much like the photographic work of Cindy Sherman and Yasumasa Morimura. Naor's figures are disconcerting in their ambivalence, as if they assume a hidden mask. Their age, and often their gender, remain obscure. Even when endowed with attributes such as a mustache or breasts, they are perceived as an easily-removable costume. Their gaze is glassy yet direct. The frontality is festive as in portraits of nobility or saints, but the figures' appearance conveys discomfort, as if unaccustomed to being subject to observation. One is reminded of Oscar Wilde's Picture of Dorian Gray, a novel about a portrait that ages and grows ugly instead of its subject, and when the latter dies, it reverts to being the portrait of a young man. In Naor's painting, the temporal resilience and the ostensibly tranquil portraits imply interruption of the natural order of time.


Nadav Naor, Untitled, 2013, oil on canvas, 190x160, Dubi Shiff Collection, Tel Aviv