“Art Fairs are the best way to interact with art globally,” says Yigal Ozeri, the Israel-born, New York-based artist, who is visiting India for the first time. His work was recently showcased by Bruno Art Gallery at the 2023 edition of the India Art Fair. Ozeri is known across the world for his photo-realistic paintings, featuring portraits of women against landscapes, trees, and other natural flora and fauna.
“Artists get a chance to showcase their artwork to a new audience and also penetrate the art-market,” adds Ozeri. His son—Adam Ozeri, a professional soccer player—is often surprised on hearing about the millions of dollars raised by works of artists like Gerard Richter, Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, to name a few. “I tell my kids that art can be as important to the economy as any other sector in the market,” he says.
This his photo-realistic works, Ozeri’s intention is to create awareness about the importance of nature and the feminine energy—both of which, in his opinion, are interconnected. His portraits often start with interesting meetings. He recalls one such interaction with one of his oft-featured subjects, Priscilla, whom he met in 2005. She lived in a tree house with no phone, network or any modern gadgets. Since then, she has appeared in several of his paintings, her dreadlocks merging with the trees and the river. “In many ways she is a new-age hippie, indicating to us that one can live quite happily without all the trappings of technology or urbanity,” says Ozeri, who painted Priscilla emerging from a tree, and in other works as well, in which she merged with the landscape.
Another subject that he enjoyed photographing and then painting was Mick Jagger’s daughter Lizzie. When he went to photograph Lizzie, she was busy on the phone, smoking and talking at the same time. This candid session resulted in the famous painting, Lizzie Smoking, which has been shown at the Galería Senda, Barcelona, Spain. Another photo, Lizzie in the Snow, has been exhibited at the Mark Moore Gallery, Santa Monica.
Ozeri studied art in Israel, with the aim of becoming an abstract painter. “In many ways, studying abstraction gave me that edge over others. The photo-realism is reserved for the face and body of the subjects, but I give an abstract feel to the landscapes behind,” says Ozeri. His work carries hints of Pre-Raphaelite aesthetics, which lend an ethereal touch to his works.
Besides his stunning photorealist images of women (and a few men), Ozeri also paints the American-diner culture and creates portraits of New York city, which are so detailed and life-like that one often mistakes them for actual photographs.
With plans to travel to Old Delhi, Ozeri is very excited about being in India. He hopes to have a big solo show in India in the coming years. He feels that India has a very powerful art culture, which is being acknowledged now. “Emerging from the pandemic, we are at an important juncture in art and culture. One would love to see a deeper understanding, inclusion and acknowledgement of countries from Africa and others like Israel and India and in the international art scene,” says Ozeri.