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Tribute to Ra’anan Levy

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The French-Israeli artist Ra’anan Levy died on Wednesday, June 1, 2022 at the age of 68. Known for his very large paintings, he was also an excellent draftsman and engraver.

Born in Israel in 1954, Ra’anan Levy studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome between 1975 and 1979 and then joined the Accademia in Florence. At the same time, he enrolled at the Santa Reparata Graphic Art Center in Florence, where he deepened his mastery of engraving techniques. From 1980 to 1982, he studied history and the history of Muslim countries at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem before being appointed artist in residence at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Amsterdam until 1984. In 1987, he received a grant from the Fondation de France and lived in Paris for two years. From then on, the artist divided his life and work between Florence and Paris.

Represented in the mid-1980s by the Marlborough Gallery, he had his first success with a major exhibition of works on paper in 1996 at the Tel Aviv Museum. Discovered by the French public during his first retrospective at the Musée Maillol at the end of 2006, his work met with great enthusiasm. It will be presented a second time at the Maillol Museum in 2012 and then at the Maeght Foundation in 2019 and many times at the Dina Vierny Gallery.

Very early on, Ra’anan Levy displayed an obsession with capturing the traces left by man on everyday objects, nudes, self-portraits, hands, landscapes, still lifes, washbasins, empty spaces, manholes, mirrors, serving only as a pretext to question the transience of time or the mark of the human. These themes, which he treats with pastels, pencils, paintings and engravings, function as communicating vessels and concentric circles, thanks to which the degree of symbolic possession of a reality that often turns out to be elusive increases.

With his painting in pure colors and bright pigments, somewhere between Balthus, Hammershøi, Freud and Hopper, Ra’anan Levy presents a certain continuity with the great tradition of figurative painters, far from the formalist and conceptual debates of modernism. His deserted interiors reveal his solitude and his view of the world around him. Alone with himself, he tries to make each of his paintings a living space. For space of creation and space of life are very intimately linked in his work, which he constantly feeds with his very subjective vision of the world around him. He observes places and people with extreme acuity. The result is a very personal and expressive work, where each engraving, each paper, each canvas is the result of an obsessive adventure marked by such a degree of commitment and passion that Ra’anan Levy ends up embodying himself in his painting.

The artist continued to produce tirelessly until the end of his life, which came without warning at the dawn of summer 2022. The loss of Ra’anan Levy is significant for the Dina Vierny Gallery, which will never forget this artist whose heart was as appreciated as his creative hand. We will soon pay tribute to him at the gallery.

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