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Art & Life with Yaron Dotan

Today we’d like to introduce you to Yaron Dotan.

Yaron, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.

Most people do everything they can to move to New York City. I was born there and did everything I could to leave. It took a while, but is 3 and a half years enough to officially make me an Angeleno?

I always had trouble seeing. One eye is out of focus, the other one is way more out of focus – and lazy to boot. Most people take their eyesight for granted but I only have partial vision. Not the best place to start drawing. So, when I taught myself how to draw I did it with a vengeance. I insisted on drawing in a hyper realistic style because I wanted to prove to myself and everybody else that I could see – even better than they could. I used the thinnest mechanical pencils on the market, and even gemologist glasses to capture every last detail. Ok, I admit that was nuts.

I already knew how to draw when I was accepted to my MFA program. What I wanted to learn was how to be an artist, and so the program I enrolled in was less academic and more focused on experimentation. In no time my interest in realism dissipated and I became fascinated with optical illusions. I was amazed at how a few carefully arranged black and white lines could mess with the eye so much. I even met with a neurobiologist who specialized in optics to find out how illusions work. I’m a figurative artist and wavy lines for their own sake weren’t exactly enough to satisfy my artistic expectations. I decided to start using optical design elements to depict people but also question their presence. As it is people are pretty mysterious: they show some parts of themselves and hide other parts. In a somewhat counterintuitive way I thought that by creating confusing imagery I was going to create more accurate paintings of people than I had hoped to earlier with realism.

I have been experimenting with this concept for the past ten years, always trying to find new ways to play with it. It’s been one hell of an adventure.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I want to show you something or someone and then disrupt your vision. It’s there but maybe only half as much now as you thought. Using rhythmic, undulating black and white lines I’ll create a screen through which you can see ‘seeing’.

I want you to question what you see and what it means, but more than anything I want you to look. The point of art is for it to be looked at. At the Metropolitan Museum the average time people spend looking at a painting is 17 seconds. If I can get you to look for longer than that I feel pretty good, and if you keep on looking I’ve succeeded.

How do you think about success, as an artist, and what do quality do you feel is most helpful?
I like to see my work in galleries. And I like to sell it even more. Plus, who doesn’t like a compliment? But I have to admit that the greatest pleasure I have from art is in making it. I’m not interested in being a big shot – I want to be a magician.

Artists are the luckiest people in the world. Endless experiments await. If all you do is make the same kind of painting over and over again, no matter how “successful” you are, you’re dead. Take big chances and be imaginative. I always tell my art students to make bad paintings. Feel uncomfortable. Before you know it something incredible and unexpected comes to the surface.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
The best way to see my work is in person. I am based in Silver Lake and studio visits are welcome. For an extended history of my art feel free to visit my website (, where you can also get in touch with me. My new works are always being posted on social media, and I do commissions. My next solo show is going to be at bG Gallery in Santa Monica, and I show at various galleries and art spaces both locally and internationally – follow me on Instagram to get updates.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Yaron Dotan

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