Israeli artist Avner Ben Gal likes to investigate human nature. He’s depicted many themes in the past: poverty, natural disasters, relationships among people, religion, and the state. Now, in his latest solo show at the Bortolami Gallery, Ben Gal checks out opiates through larger than life marker drawings and his more traditional pathway, painting. You’ll see a bird woman in a shower and in another, a female with back turned surrounded by menacing bird headed men in a tub. Could this be a hallucination? Likely, and then there are more direct symbols, like the white fleshy arm, wrapped tightly with black gear. Obviously, he just shot up.
The marker prints depict hysteria, as well as highs and with drawl. The paintings take the viewer into a dreamier less threatening landscape. All in all, true to form, Ben Gal brings you directly to the characters in his canvas. Even if they snub you while you’re there, there’s a definite point of entry and intrusion into their experience.
Check it out, until December 24th, at Bortolami Gallery, 520 West 20th Street, NYC.
(**For those in the UK, Ben Gal is also repped on that side of the pond by the Sadie Coles Gallery.)