Art In Uncertain Times: A Sense of Urgency Ripped Out, Guy Yanai From Tel Aviv
"Just to write this email has become so hard, my mind is numb and I hardly know myself anymore." We could almost hear Guy Yanai stunned, shaking his head as he opened his heart for our Art in Uncertain Times segment. Writing from Tel Aviv in Israel, the current situation has profoundly affected the Haifa-born artist's life, from his home setting and studio practice, to near and far future plans. In an effort to bring people closer and share the ways Covid-19 can build community as we jointly practice safe measures, we've asked Yanai to document a typical day and share with us his thoughts, worries, and hopes.
"So, we start our day whenever we wake up. No alarm anymore. We start with me trying to work out. Aurore puts a Pilates thing on TV. It’s in French, so I get to learn French and try to avoid working out at the same time.
"Somehow I make it to the studio, either by car or on foot. In normal times I always walk, but now it feels safer to drive. My studio manager and assistant no longer come, as they are not allowed, and honestly, I prefer it like this now. The studio feels sad, empty; it feels that the sense of urgency has been ripped out of it.
"My gallerists from Düsseldorf (Galerie Conrads) were supposed to arrive in Tel Aviv on March 21. It was to be their first time in Israel. They were to view all the new work, and we were going to ship it right when they left for a solo show, our second solo show together. Of course, it has now been delayed, along with Art Brussels, Art Cologne, and Dallas Art Fair where I was supposed to show. Not sure about Casa Wabi, which was supposed to be in late April. Who knows?
"There is nothing unique in anything here, as everyone has been hit hard by this. And to see liberal Western democracies like Italy and Spain suffer so much is heart-wrenching. It re-defines what “not fair” means. Somehow oppressive authoritarian regimes handle this nightmare better, since they are always in some sort of fabricated emergency (except Iran).
"Ten days ago I told myself that this is a time to reflect, to think, to reassess... But to be honest, I haven’t done any of that. I got cash, ordered pasta, tuna, rice, and bad looking organic food. I don’t read, at least not much. I'm mainly on my iPhone with the news. I have discovered Zoom and Houseparty, I have cooked with my kids, and I nap in the afternoon.
"I appreciate every small thing, the supply chain, the food chain, airports, airplanes, restaurants, bars. I appreciate the people around me. Aurore, Romy, and Ava.
"Is this a sort of spiritual crisis? Maybe it is... For so long now, it’s been deadlines. And now they have vanished into uncertainty. I can take my time and work slowly, methodically. But … not yet. Soon. I am kind of in shock but soon will adjust. I know it. Art is still the reason and meaning of my life. I am thinking of Proust, of Gerhard Richter, of Cezanne, of Matisse, of producing art during hard times. All artists, all great artists went through historically difficult times. The mediocre ones succumbed to the present, the great ones never did."
Text compiled by Sasha Bogojev