"Art is an opening and a bridge between the inner self and the universe."
Nurit Avesar was born in 1954 in a kibbutz in Israel, and moved to Jerusalem with her family when she was 7 years old. From an early age, Nurit loved art, especially drawing, and at the age of 22, she moved to Los Angeles and attended “Hollywood Art Center”, a small private art school in Hollywood owned by Mona Lovins. The instructors were mostly former Disney Studio employees and very good at teaching the fundamentals of drawing and painting. Avesar’s talent was finally recognized and she was encouraged to pursue her artistic aspirations.
Once she finished school, Avesar worked as a graphic designer and illustrator, and after about ten years in the industry, she took a hiatus to raise her family. When the children grew up, Nurit returned to school and earned her MA degree in Studio Art from California State University Northridge. She currently lives in Los Angeles and practices art full time.
Avesar’s recent major exhibitions include solo exhibitions at Beyond Baroque, Venice, CA, and The Neutra Institute Museum in Silver Lake. She has exhibited at the Carnegie Museum in Oxnard, CA, California State University Dominguez Hills, and the Brand Library Art Gallery. In 2018, Avesar curated First Response- a group show at Keystone Gallery, Los Angeles. She is also the 2010 recipient of the Dean Purchase Award.
Avesar’s works are truly masterpieces and genuine breaths of fresh air. The diverse use of media feels natural and the discrete color palette has a calming type of energy. The longer you gaze upon the canvas the more the secrets within begin to emerge. Nurit’s creations are a beautiful work of poetry, it’s almost as if you can hear, as well as feel the sentiments emanating from each painting.
Q. What role does the artist have in society?
A. The artist’s role in society is to expand people’s minds beyond the daily routine, to push boundaries, introduce new ideas and to bring awareness to different cultures and points of view. Art promotes discussions and helps build critical thinking skills. It provides communication and understanding, and helps build bridges among people and cultures.
Q. Do you remember the first art you made? What was it and how old were you? How and when did you first become seriously interested in art?
A. In early elementary school between the ages of 7- 9, I used to invent stories and illustrate them. I sat at the back of the class and shared those stories with the students around me. I had quite an audience! My teacher, Mrs. Richter, who was supportive and understanding, turned a blind eye to the disturbance and told my parents that I would become an artist. I still have quite a collection of those notebooks. My teacher, with my permission, kept a few of them. Later on, when I migrated to The United States in my early 20s, I enrolled in art school and made up my mind to be a professional artist.
Q. What have you had to sacrifice for this career?
A. My art practice is very time consuming, I gave up the opportunity to develop a career that could provide more financial stability and predictability. I often have to give up precious time with my family, friends and community in order to spend time in my studio. It is hard to think of this as sacrifice because being an artist and making art is a passion and a blessing. It is being true to who I am.
Q. Tell us about your particular style and how you came to it?
A. For many years, my work was figurative and descriptive, a homage to my drawing and illustration background. Over time, my natural progression has moved more and more toward abstraction and concept.
My current work is about the process of applying and juxtaposing fragments of paintings in order to merge them into new and coherent images. I start the work with a large painting on paper, which I paste onto canvas, I then sand the surface of the painting, and tear and remove the areas that have not completely adhered to the canvas. This creates a new image composed of distressed fragments of the original painting. I then proceed to manipulate the image. I often collage rust, graphite, fabric and paper, as well as paint, in order to create the finished pieces. The final images are surprising visuals, combining the faded, ghostly images of the initial surfaces merged with the bolder, brighter layers, which were added on top. Manipulating and destroying finished paintings in order to create new ones invokes the reexamination of cultural legacies and historical events and their weight on the present. Those intriguing and complex surfaces convey vulnerability along with dynamism.
Q. Who are your biggest influences? Are you inspired by the work of your peers or anyone else in particular?
A. I admire many artists and enjoy discovering new ones. I am fortunate to live in Los Angeles and enjoy the vast artistic exposure that the city offers. The ones that have influenced me
the most are: Anselm Kiefer, Mark Bradord and Marion Estes. I am fortunate to be able to see
their work in person.
Q. What does your art aim to express?
A. My current body of work is about global warming and its unfolding impacts. The recent mega fires and floods in California made me realize that the issue of global warming is personal for my family and community. At this moment in history, we are already witnessing the effects of global warming. Our world will be irrevocably changed by the collapse of ecological systems, rise of sea levels, and changes of weather and wind patterns world-wide. Tragically, climate change will devastate the lives of millions of people around the world and will bring a mass wave of extinctions. Natural disasters, wars over scarce resources, mass migrations, and worsening inequality are in store for us. It is hard to come to terms with the knowledge that the world as we know it is changing. The same way I expect days to follow nights, I have always expected that weather patterns will be predictable and will support the existence of humans, flora and fauna. The lives of my children and future generations will be very different with the turbulent vanishing of familiar landscapes, communities and species.
Q. Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
A. Being an artist is an isolated occupation. I try to participate in artist talks and panel discussions, as well as attend exhibition openings. I strive to support my artist friends and community.
Q. Apart from art, what do you love doing?
A. I love spending time with my family, my adult children and their families. I love nature, hikes, the beach and road trips.
Q. What is your philosophy in matters of art?
A. My philosophy regarding my art practice is to keep an open mind and fresh outlook in every piece that I create. Unintentional color, shape or composition might surprise me and clarify the meaning of the work. I welcome “happy accidents” and always look for growth and evolution in my art.
Q. What does 'success' mean to you?
A. Success to me is to be able to create strong work that makes people stop and think or moves them to reexamine an issue. I would like to make people revisit the art, discover new things and reconsider their first impression of it. This is very hard to do, and I have only seen a few artworks that are able to achieve this level.
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given, and by who?
A. My mentor and art teacher once told me that the best times in working on an art piece are when you have a blank canvas and it is all in your head; and when you know that the piece is done and there is nothing to add or take away from it. The middle is a struggle full of self-doubt. Do not be afraid of the process and do not despair. Just keep at it: trust yourself and your ability as an artist.
Q. What advice would you give to the next generation?
A. My advice to other artists is to thrive, to grow, and to experiment. Do not be afraid of failure and the creation of unsuccessful pieces. Do not get comfortable with art that wins you praises and compliments. Be brave to try new things and do not get attached to one style or stay in a comfortable place. Keep on growing. Your art should mature with you.
Q. What’s something about yourself or your life that might surprise others to learn?
A. When I started painting, I created photo-realistic, smooth, figurative paintings using tiny soft brushes, and applying mostly glazing technique. Very different from my current style. I now paint large, textured abstracts. My tools, among others are an electric sander and palette knives, large house painting brushes and rugs.