Throughout his career, Nir Hod has explored the relationships between glamour and loneliness, beauty and death. His work is aesthetically beautiful, but also deeply emotional. By looking as his pieces, so many stories can be told and so many hearts can be accessed. He is one of those people who could talk for hours without losing with passion or boring his audience, and as such, he kept me curious and hungry to hear more and see more.
Nir, who was born in Tel Aviv and moved to New York 15 years ago, enjoys the rare privilege to have a studio in the Meatpacking District. As he aptly says: “nobody wanted to be in this area back in 1999”. The large space which has hosted this creative genius has allowed him to witness first-hand the transformation of the neighborhood and of the city as a whole.
There is brutal honesty in his words, particularly when talking about conceptual art that is devoid of beauty and emotion, which to him “isn’t really art at all” (and I happen to agree). I like the consistency and continuity present in the evolution of his pieces: his previous shows, especially “Mother” and “Genius” clearly show the mastery of his brush but there’s so much more: the darkness behind the subjects and Nir’s own intuition which allows him to create highly glamorous pieces that explore darker ideas.
His most recent show “Once Everything Was Much Better Even The Future” currently at Paul Kasmin Gallery is based in part around the idea of the world that we live in, the decay that many societies have been experiencing, the greed, money and excesses of new and old economies that hit jackpots like the extraction of natural resources that inevitably led to war and more greed. The pieces exhibited include an engulfing, compelling and magic triptych of flaming orchids called “ I Want Always to be Remembered in Your Heart” which was in part inspired by Gerard Richter’s surreal realism works and where there is a clear parallel between life and death. Other new works include canvases that Nir transforms using a chroming process that turns the underlying fabric into reflective, mirrored surfaces that easily trick the watchers into thinking that the pieces are made of metal or glass and the massive sculpture that shares its name with the show and which is a snow globe containing a moving scale model of a pumpjack encased in oil and swirling “snow” comprised of gold-colored flakes, a reflection of the immense wealth generated by the oil trade. And one of the most important questions gets to be asked: can the production and consumption of oil peacefully coexist?
As our conversation evolves and we talk about life (Nir is the newly minted father of baby Shawn, who was born two months ago) I realize how vehemently focused Nir is about his art, his process, his technique. And that is the kind of passion that his personality emanates. Despite the darkness of his work, this man is warm, intense and unequivocally human; qualities that sometimes are hard to find. Bravo!