This morning, Mayor Eric Adams unveiled five large scale portraits by the artist Roy Nachum on the walls of gallery space inside City Hall. Today’s unveiling marks the third installation of new artwork displayed in City Hall in recent months, following the display of photos from Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre during Black History Month and artist Elena del Rivero’s artwork, “Home Address,” in honor of International Women’s Day. These three installments are a part of the new citywide initiative to exhibit work by local artists and arts groups in city buildings across the five boroughs.
As per the Mayor’s press release, “Upon entry, the viewer’s eye is drawn towards the hyperrealist quality of the paintings, immediately reckoning the images as depictions of human faces. Once immersed, the experience is flipped on its head, surrounded by the work, a process of prosopagnosia seems to take place, abstracting the visual experience. Then upon closer inspection, one’s eye is drawn towards the immediately painterly surface, giant brush strokes in Fuchsia, Purple, Prussian Blue and Ultraviolet sweep across the paintings.”
“As the mayor of arts and culture, I am proud to bring diverse art to City Hall,” said Mayor Adams. “By showcasing Roy Nachum’s remarkable portraits in City Hall, we hope to continue to celebrate the talents and experiences of New Yorkers, and foster a spirit of unity and inclusion in our city. Roy’s installation, “Portraits,” showcases the incredible collaboration between him and some of our inspiring brothers and sisters who are low vision is a testament to the power of art to transcend boundaries and bring people together.”
“When we bring art into our city’s public places, we create space for inspiration, exploration, and new connections” said New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Laurie Cumbo. “We’re so excited for the remarkable artwork of Roy Nachum, along with his amazing collaborators, to be installed in City Hall, the civic heart of New York, and we look forward to bringing even more local artists’ work to public buildings around the city.“
The painting process is split into two parts and documented. Part one: the work is extremely labor intensive and in oil paint. Nachum captures every microscopic detail of the human face, using a tiny detail brush, each portrait taking him well over a year to paint. He invited each of his painted subjects to participate in the completion of the work, painting their self-portrait over the top of his hyperreal depiction of their face, using much larger brush at speed, and in oil paint. It is only after part two – the individuals participation ~ that Nachum feels the portraits gather their soul and unearth their raw presence.
Visitors who were invited to see the portraits experience a video and audio component – and it is then that they discover the subjects of the paintings are visually impaired and/or blind. Nacho’s collaborators are an integral part of the work, the lines between the audience, subject and artist are blurred.
“I worked on each portrait for over a year, capturing every detail of their faces, but it was not until after they touched the canvas itself that the paintings were given their soul,” said Artist Roy Nachum. “These works represent humility. It is a great honor to exhibit them in City Hall and be part of a historic event advocating for cultural diversity in New York City.”
Nachum hopes his work is an eye opener ~ a vehicle to allow viewers to confront their own existential apprehensions. His work touches on the senses, the absence of one creating the presence of another. The works in the exhibition are available for sale with the proceeds after costs going to Nacho’s collaborators, Rachel Cross, Romeo Edmead, Leona Godin, Fritz Lauture, and Rosie Lopez.
About the artist ~ Roy Nachum (b.1979, Jerusalem, Israel) is known for his comprehensive artistic practice that examines human perception through painting, sculpture, architecture and installation. Nachum is a versatile proteus, a multidisciplinary artist with the unique ability to merge worlds. His experimental works utilize art historical elements, conceptualism, and interactivity to explore complex psych-visual factors like sensory substitution, internal representations, trans historical paradigms and mental rotation.
Works often include Braille messages and the recurring subject of a child with a gold crown covering his or her eyes, suggesting “blindness’ caused by displaced values and desire. The Crown Kid is a symbol of humility.
Over the last decade Nacho’s practice has expanded, experimenting developing new ideas, methods and narratives. His work addresses the future challenges and possibilities that technology imposes on art, and what it means to grow in the digital age. He manipulates modern tools to create country-pushing artworks, and gives new meaning to “being inside his work’ as he redefines experience.
Roy Nachum attended The Cooper Union in New York. He was nominated for the 59th annual Grammy awards for best recording packaging for the art and art direction of Rihanna’s acclaimed album ‘Anti’. Nachum currently lives and works in New York.
View the unveiling in the YouTube video above. It is part of a new program bringing art to our City’s public places in all five boroughs.