Avi Kenan is a visual artist, sculptor as well as fascinating individual (and I can now add friend to this list). His life story and journey features international collectors and owners of his Works. From the Grimaldi Royal Family in Monaco to international collectors. Kenan is a self-made artist and has met numerous VIPs from around the world without having an agent. Avi’s success is due to his brilliance, pleasant demeanour and often being in the right place at the right time. For this interview to go ahead I waited 3 months, 2 flights, 2 buses and 1 car journey. As you’ll see when you read on, it was worth the effort!
The Carat Soup (TCS): So Avi, tell us who do you work with?
Avi Kenan (AK): I’m an independent artist. Already now for 49 years, next year I should celebrate 50 years! I work completely alone but with the bronze casting, I work with a company in Holland that have existed for 170 years. They have more than 25 people who are dealing with the casting but I do most of the work, except the casting. I do all the preparation and afterwards, with the polishing and finishing touches. It’s tough work!… Being a sculptor is one of the most difficult subjects in arts. Ballet also, but it is different. Sculpture is one of the most difficult things to do and it is a challenge. Yet I like the challenge and like to be able to feel the materials. Somebody asked me recently: “what do you prefer to do, statues or paintings?” I said statues because it is much easier for me than painting, really. I don’t consider myself as a painter but there is a good result.
TCS: Speaking of sculptures and challenges, are you a fan of Rodin or is he too obvious?
AK: When I was younger I was a fan of Rodin and I admire him until today.
TCS: What’s your favourite of his Works?
AK: Giacometti not at all and I don’t understand why they sell him so much until now, I don’t understand why they sell!? Rodin was my first appreciation for figurative [art]. Of course you have to judge art relative to its time. If Rodin were exhibiting now, they would doubt him. Everything has to be considered relative to its period. So Rodin was one of the firsts. Also Henry Moore was one of my early favourites. He is modern and fantastic, really.
TCS: After 49 years, what is the significance of you exhibiting today?
AK: Well, it reminds me of when I was young and moving exhibitions every two months. It was always very dynamic. Meeting people, always moving, very dynamic. The most important thing for me is meeting people. I was asked to come and participate [at this exhibition]. Actually I’ve been quite comfortable at The Antwerp Hilton Old Town (Belgium) for fourteen years. Yet, I will tell you something very clearly, ‘the enemy of freedom is comfort’. When you are comfortable you become lazy and you lose your freedom.
TCS: Yes, a lot changes over time. What do you think will happen in the art world (sculpture in particular) in the next 5-10 years?
AK: For me, the future is already existing. For example 3D printing. Though it means future artists will be somewhat lazy. I don’t like to mention names in the media so we’ll leave it like this. But such artists will neglect to use the classic way of sculpture like I’m doing. They’ll be lazy because of electronic device such as nano technology, use of which will increase in the future. Everything will completely change. If you know about nanotechnology, you can see for example ballerinas made with laser that can be seen under magnification.
TCS: Are you influenced by music at all?
AK: Music depends what mood and what position I’m in, in terms of creation I like relaxing music. I can’t stand this *bangs table* tap tap tap metallic music. I like classic music and for this exhibition I used a guitar. Why? Mainly because of the direct connection with the painting with the guitarist (which you saw earlier) and it complements and completes what you see in the picture. I love all kinds of music as long as it doesn’t sit on the nerves.
TCS: What’s your favourite art piece that you’ve done yourself?
AK: New Birth.
TCS: Why, describe it?
AK: It is my son. You see the baby coming out of the womb. When my son was born, I was there and for me birth is the most beautiful thing ever. A pregnant woman is beautiful as a creator. Everybody we see today has experienced birth. There is something about it, a beginning. With this statue, it is a big piece and I reach everything. Plenty of motion, emotion, everything. When I look at it, I think about my son. So emotionally I’m involved very much. From a sculptural, art point of view, it is five stars…perfect.
TCS: Do you wish you could make a bigger version of it?
AK: Yes I would love to make one a few metres high, something that lasts forever. For a hospital maternity ward.
TCS: That would be superb. What is the most interesting work of art you’ve seen yet not created?
AK: In my imagination or seen in person?
TCS: That you have seen in real life, something that has come to fruition and made by another artist.
AK: Henry Moore is a great artist. Also I used to be inspired by Rodin, as I already said. In terms of contemporary art, I get a good feeling seeing other artists doing just as well [as I am]. There is no end for creation.
TCS: After four (almost five) decades, what is your motivation to stay in this industry and in your role as an artist, sculptor and painter?
AK: My motivation is one thing. I was born to be an artist. I don’t see any other thing that I can do better and I’m planning to live until 111 [years], so until my last day, I will create. Creation takes many forms and various directions. I even started photography and exploring light manipulation (with black light for example) with my paintings. Art takes many directions and everything in life is art.
TCS: From the birds, to the trees, to buildings.
AK: Yes, everything is art.
TCS: Absolutely! Is there anything else you’d like to say before we end the interview?
AK: Well, life is beautiful. I can tell you today what I told people when I was younger. My message in all my Work is peace. To promote peace between all human beings. I believe I create peace through art. When people see art it is a statement. It is a big responsibility to cast [Works] in bronze because it will last for thousands of years. Take for example My Political Opinion if you don’t have an opinion, a stable opinion you wouldn’t cast it in bronze.
AK: The most important thing is for us to change 180° the way we as humans solve things. By taking peace seriously. People have to entirely change their opinions about what is humanity, life and human values.
To learn more about Avi Kenan, his life and works go to www.avikenan.com