About: Raffi Lavie
Lavie was born in 1937 in Ramat Gan and began his career in the visual art world after participating in an art class of Haim Gamzu at the former “people’s university” in Tel Aviv. In 1955 he joined the army but was released after being wounded and recognized as an IDF disabled veteran. Lavie is considered by many to be one of the most important and influential artists in Israeli art in general and Israeli painting in particular. In 1965 he began working as a teacher at HaMidrasha – Faculty of the Arts
where he educated generations of young artists.
His paintings are characterized by specific signs which usually reflect his emotional, rational and personal world, looking at his paintings is like deciphering symbols, an act that requires a rich reservoir of complex associations. Lavi became the most identified minimalist artist who worked with materials that were not accepted and considered inferior. In his paintings he presents a new aesthetic of unusual compositions, erasings, sheets of plywood instead of canvases and use of acrylic and industrial paints instead of oil paints. Many of his works are based on a spontaneous pencil scribble, which has become one of the most prominent features of his paintings. Over the years, Lavie would attach photographs, reproductions and various posters to his paintings, thus creating different levels of aesthetics in one work and turning the banal and the vague into art.
In the 1980s, Sarah Breitberg-Semel curated one of the most important and memorable exhibitions in Israeli art - "The Want of Matter: A Quality in Israeli Art" - at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. She placed Lavie's paintings in the center of the exhibition as he was a leading figure in the Israeli art world, his paintings were a symbol to the "Want of Matter" art style which may important artists followed and had Lavie at its core. This style was characterized by the use of meager materials and a critical attitude to the social reality and to the myths of Israeli society.