Figurative art oil painting
Amnon David Ar, "Life Itself," oil on canvas, 2016, 180 x 180

Contemporary Artist Amnon David Ar on working in the traditional means of figurative painting in the 21st century.

Observation, Updated


In my work I aim to depict the contemporary human experience of our existence, both physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Through painting, I am dealing with our thoughts, how we experience time, the fragile gap between our inner fantasy world and outer boundaries, and between beauty and chaos.

Figurative art oil painting - man on a gurney
Amnon David Ar, “Death,” 2018, oil on canvas, 205 x 180

The invention of the camera has in many ways liberated the documentation role of figurative painting which allows me as an artist to explore emotion, atmosphere, perceptive analysis and psychological interpretation. We humans are a very observant species, and sight is our most prominent sense with which we capture and perceive the world around us.

I therefore choose to paint directly from life, orchestrating scenes and objects in my studio, as I feel that only this way I can depict reality in the most direct and honest way, without being restricted by the strains of any technological intermediate interpretation, such as photography and digital means.

Still life oil painting of a lucky cat
Amnon David Ar, “Pure Luck,” 2018, oil on canvas, 40 x 40

I work in the traditional technique of oil colours on self-prepared support, as for me it allows the richest and most flexible expression in painting. There is simply no substitute for the infinite freedom of expression in colour and texture it offers. I find that the endlessness of real life and natural light practically forces one to plunge into research both of the subjects painted, and of one’s own senses and perceptions and soul. Reality is constantly changing, making it an extremely interesting and difficult challenge to pick up only its characteristics, and communicate them to others.

In my work I am continuously looking for beauty and individuality in our trash-filled, noisy, capitalist profit-oriented environment, focusing my attention on the trivial and mundane while loading it with meaning and emotion, thus forming a mirror-like image of Pop art. I am particularly intrigued by and passionate about the material and texture of objects, many of which I obsessively collect.

Still life oil paintings
Amnon David Ar, “Memento Mori,” 2016, oil on canvas, 60 x 53

The human figure and its psychology is also one of my main focuses. I love to paint people, and through painting, explore our physical existence and attempt to figure out something of our inner world. Very often as I do with other subjects, I paint people around me, making them part of my world and me part of theirs.

Figurative art oil painting - man in a wheelchair
Amnon David Ar, “Old Age, Part One, Saul,” 2019, oil on canvas, 180 x 180

One of my main interests is exploring the effect of falling light on color and atmosphere. In that respect, my move from Israel to Europe was like an earthquake, passing from the Mediterranean Israeli sun to the more subtle and moderate northern light of Berlin.

Working in the traditional means of figurative painting in the 21st century, I am having a dialogue both with the traditions of painting and with our current existence; in fact, not just documenting it, but also sharing my own perception of it.

Amnon David Ar, "One Euro," 2014, oil on panel, 30 x 30
Amnon David Ar, “One Euro,” 2014, oil on panel, 30 x 30
Amnon David Ar, Untitled, 2015, oil on canvas, 80 x 59
Amnon David Ar, Untitled, 2015, oil on canvas, 80 x 59


Amnon David Ar is a unique voice in today’s realistic painting scene. Born in Israel, in 1973, Ar began his formal art education at age 14, ultimately studying at the Bezalel Academy of Arts in Jerusalem. As he could not find at the Academy the artistic training he was looking for, he decided to leave and pursue his own artistic path individually.

While being much of an autodidact, he sought advice from painters Oswald Adler and Abraham Bykov. Ar quickly gained recognition in his homeland and received his first chance at international acclaim came after his work was praised by the Rembrandt House Museum curator Dr. Bob van den Boogert, who marked Ar as one of the great draughtsmen of our time. This recognition, as well as winning the first Schiff prize for figurative painting at the Tel Aviv Museum, first prize winner at SeeMe Competition NY, and third prize winner at Boynes Emerging Artist Award Melbourne, led to numerous exhibitions in Israel, Europe and the US such as:

Solo exhibitions: Tel Aviv Museum, Vielliers Gallery Amsterdam, MZ Art Space Berlin, Kunsverein Worm and Schwezingen, Ramat Gan Museum, Artists House Jerusalem, Bernard and Mika Galleries in Tel Aviv.

Group Exhibitions: Museo Europeo de Arte Moderno, Forum Gallery and the Armory show NY, Medici and The Cube Galleries London, Arkansas Art Center, Tel Aviv Museum, Ramat Gan Museum, Haifa Museum, Janco Museum, Bat Yam Museum, Ashdod Museum, Bezalel Academy Jerusalem

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