January 5 – February 3, 2007
Opening Reception: Friday, January 5, 2006, 6:00 – 8:00 PM
Opening on January 5, 2007, Jack Shainman Gallery is pleased to present Biblical Stories, an exhibition of new photographs by Israeli artist Adi Nes. Well-known in the United States and abroad for provocative and deeply moving images addressing issues of identity – specifically, masculinity and Israeliness – Nes’ images challenge preconceived notions of the “ideal” male body, homoeroticism as a pictorial device, and the story of Jews who immigrated to Israel from Arab countries.
In 2000, in what is perhaps his most famous series, Nes photographed actors portraying young Israeli soldiers entering the army, contrasting the militarism and machoism that pervade Israeli society by focusing on the soldiers’ youth and vulnerability. Nes’ 1999 work Untitled (The Last Supper) was an elaborately-staged version of Leonardo da Vinci’s master work, featuring 14 Israeli youth dressed up as soldiers sitting at a makeshift table sharing food and conversation – yet the unspoken truth that they may not live much longer pervades. In Nes’ works, classical compositions become the backdrop for the exploration of contemporary, and at times highly controversial, issues.
In the Bible Stories series, Nes elaborates on the plight of homeless people and reinforces their human quality by connecting them with immensely powerful biblical imagery. This raises universal questions of how societies treat individuals, especially the disenfranchised. In one of the most striking photographs, Abraham and Isaac are portrayed as being homeless. In Nes' staged rendition of these two seminal biblical figures, Abraham is depicted pushing Isaac in a shopping cart filled with recyclable plastic bottles. The image calls to mind not only the mythical roles of its subjects, but the reality of daily sacrifices life forces people to make in order to survive. Taking cues from Caravaggio, who painted people from the street for authenticity, Nes inverts this by employing actors to portray common people. By doing so, his photographs come to life on at least three levels: on the mythic biblical level, the idealized classical one, and the modern world in which reality itself is questioned.
Adi Nes was born and raised in Kiryat Gat, Israel. He had recent solo exhibitions at the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, SCA (2004); Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel (2004); and Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA (2002). Group exhibitions include P.S.1 Contemporary Arts Center, Long Island City, NY (2006); Museo De Arte Contemporanea de Vigo, Vigo, Spain (2006); Corcoran Museum of Art, Washington, DC (2004); and The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel (2002).Since 2005 – The chosen artist of Israel Cultural Excellence Foundation (In Excellence).