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Adi Nes, a photographer working in Israel, makes meticulously crafted images that are both autobiographical and attest to living in a country in conflict. Nes’s photographs are reminiscent of Renaissance or Baroque paintings, often based on parables and collective cultural memory. Sexual tension is ever-present in Nes’ work, as he delves into complex explorations of homoeroticism. His goal is to reveal a universal humanism in his dramatic portraits.
In one of his most well-known images, Nes recreates Leonardo da Vinci’s, The Last Supper but replaces the central figures with Israeli soldiers. This photograph appeared on the front page of the New York Times in 2008 and helped establish Nes as one of Israel’s most acclaimed photographers. “My staged photographs are oversized and often recall well-known scenes from Art History and Western Civilization combined with personal experiences based on my life as a gay youth growing up in a small town on the periphery of Israeli society,” says Nes in an interview at the Israeli Center in San Francisco.
Nes further explores these themes in his series The Village, which was shown concurrently in New York and Tel Aviv in 2012. In an interview with The Jewish Chronicle Nes explained, “When I created The Village I thought to create an image like a dream. In many ways, dreams are fantastic and pastoral but also full of fears and all the things that we deny.” He described The Village as a metaphor for Israel, “a small place that was built after a tragedy”. There is an external beauty but at the same time “under the surface, there is something dark and not quiet.”
Adi Nes was born in Kiryat-Gat, Israel in 1966 and now works in Tel Aviv. He has had solo shows at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco; the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus; the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego. His work is in many public collections including the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Canada; The Jewish Museum, New York; the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel and The Israel Museum, Jerusalem.
Jack Shainman Gallery has represented Nes since 2003. Solo exhibitions with the gallery include Recent Photographs (2003 / 2004), Biblical Stories (2007), and The Village (2012).