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Born in Israel in 1958, Yigal Ozeri lives and works in New York. Ozeri mixes media to create large-scale cinematic portraits of young woman together or alone in lush landscapes under expansive skies. His evocative images use fantasy to connect with reality and challenge perception and illusion. In producing this work, the artist embodies the role of film director, choreographer and painter. His most recent series, Garden of the Gods, is currently on view at Mike Weiss Gallery in Chelsea through June 11th.

Q: You have been part of Mana Contemporary from the very beginning. How did you get involved?

A: I met Eugene [Lemay] at an auction for my son’s soccer team. He told me about his idea for the graffiti museum. We realized we could work on something more significant. Something that is not happening every day. We’ve worked on this for nine months. It’s kind of like we have been married for nine years. To bring a vision to life, you need a tremendous amount of energy. With Eugene, the energy keeps getting bigger and bigger.

Q: You were also key in getting Eileen Kaminsky on board, correct?

A: I introduced Eugene to Eileen. Eileen is a wonderful collector. She has collected my work for the last 10 years. We are taking care of her collection here.

Q: And you recently moved into your studio here?

A: Yes, I moved in today. I’ve already done some painting today. I’m also showing my oldest work from 20 years ago [in my studio].

Q: How do you feel about Jersey City?

A: My old studio was in Long Island City and I was there for 20 years. There is a similar feeling here. The art scene has moved from Soho to Chelsea, to the Bowery, to P.S. 1. Jersey City is always looked at by people as a kitsch place, but I think of it as the opposite. There is great space here.

Q: What are your hopes for Mana Contemporary?

A: For most of its years, people have known this company for shipping and storage. Now people are coming here who have never been exposed to art. Art has to educate people and get to them in a different way. Here, you have the opportunity to be a voyeur and see things you normally don’t see.

 

Yigal Ozeri stands in his new studio at Mana Contemporary. Photo by Tema Stauffer

– Selena Ricks-Good & Tema Stauffer