Many claim that looking at art can charge us with positive energies, and become an oasis in time, away from the intensity of our daily routines. The act of wandering among the paintings, sculptures, photographs and designs and the serenity that fills the silent gallery space are just some of the reasons that bring many to visit Tel Aviv's art galleries on a regular basis, to buy new and unique works and discover the stories behind them.
A multitude of detail, a variety of colors and hues and lots of optimism are just some elements of what characterize Nave Art, an art form which, in recent years, has finally earned acknowledgement and appreciation, largely thanks to Dan Chill, owner of Gina Gallery. Located in Tel Aviv, Gina Gallery is the only gallery in the world to show international works of nave art.
"Unlike other art forms or styles, which are usually attributed to a specific artist or country, nave art exists everywhere on our globe, and we can recognize that although each country has a different story, all the artworks celebrate that local human, cultural, historical and value-based story," Dan explains. "The artists express their memories, their surroundings, the pleasures and dreams, all in colors, images, landscapes and nature that leave viewers impressed and filled with joy and happiness. I meet many people who come to the gallery and say that they find peace in our gallery, a peace that replaces the therapist's couch, and they say that when they hang one of these works in their living room, the entire home atmosphere was changed for the better."
Dan was an attorney specializing in international commerce. Among other endeavors he advised Shaul Eisenberg and Indigo, which was later acquired by HP. He has no formal artistic education. He was exposed to nave art for the first time when visiting Honduras many years ago, and was enthralled. Since then, whenever he traveled around the world, he looked for the leading artists in the field, studied the subject and purchased dozens of works. "My house filled with works of art that covered the walls, and anyone who came to visit fell in love with them. Instead of chatting with my friends, I found myself explaining the work of art, the artist, and specifically nave art. It took twelve years until I made my decision to be the person at the forefront of exposing international nave art to the world, and in 2003 I opened my gallery. Today the gallery's collection includes 400 works by 200 artists from 37 countries. There are 100 paintings in each exhibit, which provide a special angle on this genre through the various artists' modes of expression.
Maayan Israeli, curator and gallery director, explains that art historians disagree on the exact time nave art began. Some say its roots are in the early days of the caveman, while others locate it at the start of the 20th century, when the definition of what nave art was determined. "I think nave art has existed throughout all of human history," she says with a smile. "These are self-taught artists, most of whom never had any academic training and I'm not sure they know the term 'golden ratio', but they all had intuitive abilities and their art is free and liberated. They do not adhere to classic compositions, perspectives or proportions that are precise or anatomically correct – and that's the beauty. They emphasize what really matters to them – the story. The artist wants to communicate with the viewer without manipulations, in an honest and understandable way, without any mediators."
According to Dan, because most artists in nave art work outside the establishment, they have not received the exposure they deserve, but this seems to be changing for the better, with an emphasis on Israel that has become, thanks to Gina Gallery, their artistic center, spreading the word of nave art to the world.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Dan would travel the world to meet the artists and bring their works to his gallery, but even during the crisis, the demand for new work did not decline and they were delivered especially. "We have over 8,000 regular subscribers who receive newsletters about our new works, and they also bring other new visitors to the gallery. Our clients made sure to visit us between lockdowns, to recharge with positive energy and buy art, and thanks to them, we made it through the crisis. My vision is to expose the world of Israeli and international art lovers to nave art. I'm sure there is no one who cannot connect to this form and draw pleasure, happiness, and joy from it," Dan concludes.