Fantasy against reality, playfulness versus trauma, the engrossing and unsettling paintings and drawings of Amir Nave lure us in for a closer look.

In the chaotic world of Amir Nave, the characters exist in never ceasing turmoil suffering through the absurdities of their everyday existence. Bodies pull and paw at each other, climb on top one another, in an unrelenting struggle. These figures never seem to be able to break through the oppressive weight they are drenched in, and yet, they seem to never drown in complete despair, always searching, hanging on, breathing in and breathing out.

Amir Nave lives and works in Tel Aviv and his birthplace Beer Sheva. He is frequently exhibited in Israel, France and New York.

We take some time to talk with the artist about his work and life.

Can you describe the time when you first realised that painting and drawing was something you had to do?
In my twenties I was visiting the hospital in Beer Sheva, my home town. I was walking around, pretty bored, through different hospital units and on the wall there were plenty of reproductions and posters of paintings with dedications to the medical staff, written on them. I read them one by one until I got to one painting, very vague pencil on faded blue watercolour. I remember something happened to me in front of this picture. It was like a surge and inspired me in a way I haven’t felt until then.

Who influences you?
Life. All the moments that I’m awake. If I want to be more poetic, there is something in the pain of consciousness that makes a sense of existence.

How would you describe your creative process?
First of all I dismantle everything that has a value, a meaning or a form or boundry, until nothing is left beside the existence. Everything is chaotic, meaningless, broken and from there I try to rebuild the world again and again. I create faded environments in which figures are moving, who’s bodys are a bag of needs. If you want, those are symbols to decline of the decadent and rotten human society of our time.

What drives you to create?

The arousal from creation is similar to the definition of eros, which is not immortal nor mortal and that’s why in a period of profusion it is alive and in a time of property it is dead and so on.

Much of your work is mixed media - how do you choose what to create with? Does a piece begin with the materials you’re drawn to?
Sometimes a creation starts from the excitement of a material. It’s almost a physical reaction to new material. But mostly my works are the result of researching, trial and error in a world of ideas, emotions, forms. The material is more a tool than a motive. The urge that I have is related to the possibility of inside this place, there is an information that can reveal things. There is a constant tension of energies - playful versus horror, and an oscillation between fantasy and reality in your work.

There is a constant tension of energies - playful versus horror, and an oscillation between fantasy and reality in your work. Can you talk about the tensions that inform your work and this play between fantasy and trauma?
I don't associate trauma and fantasy with my work. Those are two states that can be discussed separately. The fantasy is the creation itself. The trauma in my works is not connected to me as an individual. A good creator, in the traumatic context, is not relating himself only to era he lives in. He needs to understand the neurosis of his time, and through that he can connect to the psychosis of eternity.

Sometimes you incorporate writing, words, and statements, perhaps more so in your recent works, such as Untitled (Peel Off), Untitled (Human). What inspires you to write?
The need to write evoke from two reasons: one is artistic, and related to the composition of the piece. The other reason was related to my desire to be more understood. I don’t have this desire anymore.

A common theme in your work is power struggle with figures pulling, pawing, overriding each other. Where does this come from?
Out of observing the reality in the cultural and social aspects, and the dynamics between human beings. The overriding figures symbolize the human desire for control and violence.

Your earlier works were characterised by an intimate scale and mainly included drawing and intense inscriptions with pen, pencil felt-tip on paper or pages from old books. Your
repertoire has expanded gradually including thick layers of oil on canvas. What inspired this change in scale and material?

The medium of drawing on paper has interested me significantly from the beginning. A small format demands directness and forces the viewer to approach the drawing, it is an intimate world. These are direct discharges of streams of consciousness, validated through actions and reveal the artistic content and power in the line's graphology. Lines interest me and how they urge a the eyes to follow them. Old books and book covers were so intriguing, that I could not devote myself to another thing or medium and to move on, until I felt that I understand it deeply and could use it as a basis for my works on canvas and oil paintings. The questions that occupies me with oil paintings, remain the same questions, but the format and the material make it possible to express them in a different way, perhaps more mature and lingering. Today, the sketches and drawings are accompanying my work and are a kind of an audition that I do with the characters and the ‘environment' before I release them on canvas.