I met Gal Cohen few days ago, in her beautiful and atypical studio in Jaffa. It was a tremendous pleasure to discover her art works in their environment, and have the opportunity to feel the general atmosphere around her creations. Gal is a young artist, graduated from Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, she currently lives and works in Jaffa trying to put herself out there despite the difficulties that every emerging talent can encounter. Her paintings have an oniric and dreamlike dimension, inhabited by different creatures. Her art is not mainstream, very personal, figurative but a very contemporary touch is reflecting in her work. We chatted quiet a lot about the so called Israeli art scene, noticing that even far away from the main arty metropolis, art is all about connections and that is not easier to make it here than anywhere else. Gal is down to earth, very aware about the problematic regarding the country she was born in and where she decided to create. She seems fiercely open minded, and it’s really refreshing to meet artist like that, who are avoiding tags, avoiding to please to fit in and faithful to their vision. I like to call them free spirits.
Here are some views of my visit at her studio
Gal Cohen answered few of my questions, it’s the opportunity to learn more about that girl and discover her universe.
Can you tell us more about your work?
My main medium is painting. I paint with oil on canvas, watercolors, markers, dry wool felting and more. My paintings are a combination of conscious and unconscious decisions, which I give them equally full credit in my creation. My subject matters are wide ranged, from personal fantasies, humor, social criticism, gender roles, to emotional personal issues that are directly attached to those mentioned above.
My paintings are usually influenced by photographs that intrigue me from some reason- It can be a photo I took or somebody close to me in personal life took (that is, a personal photo the reveals my personal life), or photos that deal with issues I’m interested in, photos that I aesthetically like or dislike, photos I feel an urge to make a painting inspired by them with no consciously “why” to it. After I have the image to work on, I make all kinds of manipulation on it while painting, like dismiss parts, or add other details according to the statement I want to make, or just paint it my way. The outcome is a bit surrealistic, kind of dreamy-like or ones that stand on the border between imagination and reality. I find it that once there is painting out of something, it has its own life, not necessarily connected or related to its trigger.
What are your influences? Your inspirations?
As I said, many things inspire and intrigue me. Above I spoke about visual inspiration and intellectual interests but other inspiration can be out of books, movies, great ideas, music and people. I think above all, the human quality that most inspire me is dedication. Not necessarily an artist that is dedicated to his/her art but every person who is dedicated and obligated to something inspires me. It can be to making music, cooking, playing football, being a master of Yoga,or being a chemist doctor. I get a lot of motivation out of it.
Artist I’m inspired by: Wilhelm Sasnal, Elizabeth Payton, Marlene Dumas, Luc Tuymans.
Four words to describe yourself
Stubborn, sincere, sensitive, autodidact.
Is it difficult to be an upraising talent in Tel Aviv?
Yes it is very hard being a young artist today in TLV. Except of the money issue ( which is a HUGE issue), you have the recognition part, where you seek for recognition in you as an artist from other people in the art world- other artists, curators, art critics, art galleries, and outside the art world as well.
Being an artist today means you must divide yourself to many people: first there is the artist in you, then to the public relation person in you, then the politician in you, and of course the working woman in you in order to make a living (just to make it clear, you don’t make a living out of your art as a young artist, most cases nor as an old artist) and you must have social connections with “the right people” in order for you to be noticed. You have to face the issue of pleasing other people with your art and be strong with your own truth. So yeah, it is hard being a young artist today in TLV. I guess it’s like that in any art capital. It’s not only pure art that you must deal with as an artist ,or to be more exact- pure art is the least of your problems as an artist today.
Things you love about Tel Aviv and things you would like to change about it?
I like its spontaneous vibes, its lively ,cultural ,arty, party atmosphere, I like the mixture of cultures and people in one place, I like it that every neighborhood has it own heart, I like its architecture (at some parts) and I hate its architectures at other parts.
Things I would change is the discrimination between White Tel Aviv (northen part till middle) and Black Tel Aviv (southern parts and eastern parts), the gentrification going on all over the city, the high prices of living, the mayor, the transportation. Many things I would change in this city.
What are your favorites arty spots in Tel Aviv?
I don’t really have favorite arty spots. I love walking around the area where I live in, which is deep in Jaffa. I don’t really find the white cubed galleries in TLV as very inspiring, I’m much more inspired by wondering the streets, meeting people , discovering all the beautiful authentic houses from the eclectic architecture period, sitting in dog gardens, going to studio visits…
What are your favorite Israeli artists?
Yuri Katz, Romy Shay, Rona Yefman.
What are your upcoming projects?
I have an exhibition happening in a few months from now in Herzlya Theater Hall, a group exhibition of women artist coming up in 2014, and a few more potential projects I’m working on these days. Meanwhile, I’m trying to keep myself busy, with the real thing, the art making in my studio.
Short selection of my favorite pieces :
How to contact her ?
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone : +972 (54) 3183540