Sale: Contemporary Art Auction Date of sale: 07.07.2024 Item: 63

Michal Na’aman

Pre-Figuration, 2007,
Oil, masking tape and mixed technique on canvas, 190×150 cm.
Signed, titled, and dated on the reverse.

To watch a video about Michal Na’aman’s works, click here

Michal Naaman (b. 1951) is one of the leading Israeli artists today and has received extensive recognition in Israel and worldwide. From the beginning of her career, she established herself as a conceptual artist dealing with challenging subjects such as politics, religion, and gender. Her work is filled with philosophical questions, paradoxes, and puzzles, infused with humor and a sense of anxiety. Already in 1974, she gained prominence with the iconic work "The Eyes of the State, " which addressed the Yom Kippur War. In 1982, she represented Israel at the Venice Biennale and also held solo exhibitions in New York during those years.

In the late 1990s, Naaman began creating a body of work using masking tape, which became her signature and was featured prominently in her solo exhibition "The Colors" at the Tel Aviv Museum in 1999. In these works, Naaman weaves strips of masking tape in layers, revealing and covering areas, creating a complex geometric structure reminiscent of a DNA helix. Combined with fluid colors, the masking tape takes on the character of skin with scars and wrinkles. At the center of her work often appears an expression or a statement that she wishes to ponder and challenge, sometimes accompanied by a humorous twist. Within the works, Naaman embeds hints, symbols, and quotes that seem like a code for the viewer to decipher, yet she mainly leaves them as questions.

Despite being a student of Raffi Lavie, a leading figure in conceptual art and material poverty in the local scene, Naaman developed her own artistic language, where the materiality of the works holds significant weight alongside linguistic play and broad references to history and culture. In the painting "Pre Figuration" from 2007, Naaman references a concept from Christian theology, suggesting that hints to Jesus’s pre-incarnation life can be found in the Torah. From the tapestry of masking tape emerges an abstract figure in shades of purple, resembling the dignitaries of the Catholic Church, surrounded by red drips, perhaps representing the pope’s cloak or the color of blood. Also noticeable is the recurring figure of the white rabbit in Naaman’s paintings, adding a layer of humor to the existential questions she presents in her works.

Naaman was won the Israel Prize (2014), the Sandberg Prize (2002), the Dizengoff Prize (1998), and numerous other awards. She has held two significant solo exhibitions at the Tel Aviv Museum and participated in dozens of additional exhibitions. Her works are found in the collections of the Israel Museum, the Tel Aviv Museum, as well as many other public and private collections, enjoying great popularity among collectors.

Shlomit Oren

Estimated price: $15,000 - $20,000

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About: Michal Na'aman

is an artist and art lecturer, born in 1951. In her work, Na'aman extensively focused on representation, gender, theology, verbal perception versus visual perception, language limitations and visual limitations. Na'aman is considered one of the pioneers in conceptual art and even won the Israel Prize for Art in 2014. In 1969 she began her studies in HaMidrasha – Faculty of the Arts, and was greatly influenced by Raffi Lavie. Like many others, Na'aman absorbed quite a bit of Lavi's artistic language and frequently visited him in his home, which was then located on 42 Yona Hanavi Street in Tel Aviv, and became a meeting place for many artists. At the same time, Na'aman was also able to show independence in her art. For example, many of her works include a textual image, in contrast to the absolute separation between form and content Lavie was so supportive of. Later on, they became colleagues, when they both were part of the teaching staff in the Midrasha, Na’aman still teaches there today. The judges who chose Michal Na’aman for receiving the Israel Prize explained the reasons for it, they defined her body of work as unique, enigmatic and extremely original. Na'aman's works always raise questions and existential wonderment, as well as profound thought about the world which they describe, all by using a wide range of visual means, and quite a bit of humor. Nevertheless, Na'aman continued to create impressive conceptual art, especially through collages. She participated in numerous exhibitions in Israel and abroad, and was not afraid of confronting even loaded concepts as divinity. Like another groundbreaking artist - Lea Nikel - who has had a significant influence on many painters, Michal Na'aman is also considered to have empowering influence over future generations in Israeli art. Her role as a professor in the Midrasha is part of that influence, but mainly, it’s her deep and extraordinary thinking, and her expression in a variety of inspirational artistic measures that make her a role model.
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