Yam Shalev: I Come From Here

Yam Shalev

Artwork’s Title: I come from here (2019)

Materials Used: Acrylic and spray on canvas

Studio Based: Berlin

Yam Shalev, I COME FROM HERE , Acrylic and spray on canvas, 190 x 150 cm, 2019

Can you tell us about the process of making your work?

Honestly, to watch me working in the studio can be a bit of a stressful experience ( at least my girlfriends thinks so). During the creative process you’ll find a large canvas nailed to the wall in front of me, my colours all around me on the floor, a strong smell of spray colour in the air, closed windows and my favourite british rock band blasting in the background. Occasionally you’ll find me sneaking in a little dance to a good tune, but generally I work very calmly ;).

My paintings focus on the daily situations we all face in life and draws out the positivity in them wether its a good or a bad day. I am always carrying my sketchbook with me and in the most unexpected times the dots connect in my head and I am able to see the narrative, message and process come together. That is the moment I take out my sketchbook wherever I am and roughly start drawing out the story. When I arrive at my studio I take time to go over it and try untangle the messy scribbles I made in the underground train on my way there. I outwork composition, colouring and content until it feels right and speaks to me, then I move on to canvas.

My colours I always choose intuitively. Something I have learned about myself over the time is that even though setting the structure through the sketch is very important for my process, the most successful things come to me while I am working naturally and freely which is why I am intentional to create space for me to improvise, despite my sketch.

How would you define your work in a few words (ideally in 3 words)?

Yam Shalev’s show.

Would you use another three different words to describe the “I come from here” painting?

Post digital surrealism.

How did you come up with this painting idea? Is there any story behind this painting?

The idea for this painting came to me from my private life, a lesson I was lucky to learn and i felt the responsibility to pass it on.

It was the end of 2018 and I had just moved to Berlin. Leading up to this major life event of mine I had the perfect plan organised in my head and all the practical things lined up; this included an apartment I was supposed to move into right upon arrival, a Christmas group exhibition I had my name in, enough money in my pocket to survive the winter and a meeting with a studio owner I was in the process of closing a contract with. We all know things never go as planned…one day after I arrived the landlord called to cancel our agreement, three days after I got robbed of almost all the money I had, then the gallery called off my participation in the Christmas exhibition and the cherry on top; the studio owner pulled back last minute and gave the spot he promised me to a different artist.

Yeah…sounds like a good start, right? Even though Berlin chewed me up and spat me out within my first two weeks here, my stubbornness (or perhaps lack of awareness) pushed me to not give up and find a way to overcome all of it. After 3 months I was back on my feet and able to keep a healthy mindset through the process. Of course a lot of credit goes to my family and friends, but eventually everything came together and you never know where good things can come from.

This painting is dedicated to my move to Berlin and the fact that everything can come together and work out for the best if you let it.

What colour is used the most in this painting?

White, a lot of white.

What would be the best way to exhibit your work?

My paintings are very big and colourful which is why it is important that their vibrancy and power don’t get lost in their presentation. Therefore I find white clean walls most suitable. By this I don’t necessarily mean a big fancy gallery with anaemic walls, but the fact that the white background is critical in order for the colour palates to not lose their effect on the eye.

Can you mention any artists you, lately or generally, take inspiration from?

I think one of my all time favourite artists is Peter Saul. He is an american surrealism pop artist who makes use of sharp colours to portray political characters in a witty way. He has some nerve and truthfulness I haven’t seen with anyone else in that way. Currently however I suck most of my inspiration from people like Alex Gardener, Oli Epp and Christina Banban. I was at an exhibition of Christina earlier this year at 68 project here in Berlin and I stood in front of one of her works for more than an hour. I can’t recall when I have ever dived so deeply into a painting. She is one of those artists who sends you home with homework and a long thought process about what you just saw.

How do you know when this painting was finished?

After two weeks of it hanging in the studio I kept looking at it with the feeling that any extra touch would just disappoint me.

What about the place where you work? What’s your studio space look like?

I always begin my process with a clean and organised studio, if there is a mess around me there is a mess in my head. Obviously things become messy in the creating, but once I finish for the day I make sure to put things back in their place. You will always hear music playing through my walls, sometimes flowers on a table and an empty pizza carton in the corner. Oh! and I have a small Hamsa hanging in the window which was a gift from my brother for my birthday.

Is there any particular message that you wish your viewers can take from this painting?

The simplicity of things and most of all how things come together naturally if you stay positive and keep a good healthy energy.

What does your mum think about your art?

I think my Mom wins the title of my biggest fan, she is the first one to receive a photo of my latest work and she gets excited about it as if she has never seen anything like it. I know she doesn’t fully understand the deepness of what it is I am doing or talking about in my work, but she treats it like it is my greatest achievement. That is the cutest thing.

Which exhibition did you visit last?

Since I had been very busy working on some private things in my studio I didn’t have much of a chance to go out and visit art shows as I usually do. However the last exhibition I went to was the Berlin Art Week Fair, where I got to see the masterpieces of many great artists and was exposed to different kinds of expressions. A very inspiring experience. To be honest I developed a bit of a crush on Cathrin Hoffmann’s works, she’s incredible. I got to know her a bit via instagram and I love her use of paint in a graphic and visual way to create surrealistic, sharp characters.

Which are your plans for the near future?

I just recently completed my new series and am now focused on developing it for an exhibition, which I also still need to find the right place and audience for. But I simply want to keep doing what I am doing which includes extending my working space in Europe, making part in exhibitions in Berlin and beyond (which London would be my first destination) and I am also looking to take part in a residency. A lot of my artist friends are developing their works in residencies and keep telling me what a strong and inspiring experience it is.It takes you out of your comfort zone and exposes you as an artist and also as a human, I would be very interested in doing that in my near future.

In one sentence however; to keep creating, growing, exhibiting and to extending my exposure.

Additional Paintings

image (4)
Yam Shalev, ALEX AND EVERYTHING AROUND, Acrylic and spray on canvas, 150 x 130 cm, 2019
image (3)
Yam Shalev, IM FINALLY FREE AND I LIKE IT, Acrylic and spray on canvas, 140 x 190 cm, 2019
image (7)
Artist Yam Shalev in his studio
image (2)
Yam Shalev, WE ARE ALL THE SAME, Acrylic and spray on canvas, 190 x 150 cm, 2019

© All images are courtesy of the artist


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