Briefly describe the work you do.
My work incorporates various techniques: sculpture, painting, drawing, installation, video, ceramics and more. I deal with different issues that affect my choice of materials and techniques, such as consumerism, multiculturalism and representations of reality through the media. My video-art works attempt to examine the relations between image, movement and music and to give new meanings and interpretations to this connection. In my sculptures and installations I frequently use readymade materials as a means to explore the tension between the common nature of various everyday objects, and their potential to become part of a work of art.
My works can quite easily be defined as pop-art in their subjects, vibrant colors and collage-like essence, and correspond with the works of Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, Gabriel Orozco and others. I try to keep my works light and humorist while still dealing with social issues, but with a twist.
Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.
I was always artistic, even as a very young child. My high school years were a bit hard in this sense because we didn’t have art studies and I had to concentrate on passing my exams, so I had a long pause where I didn’t have time to practice art at all, and I think that’s why now I just make art all the time, practically, 24/7.
I was also always interested in cooking and was even accepted to a cooking school but that didn’t work out for me. I don’t cook professionally but my art often deals with food and many of my artistic associations are related to it as well.
Perhaps because of my ADHD I have difficulty watching long and slow video works, that don’t pick up the pace or develop quickly enough. That’s why I try to make my video arts as fast and succinct as possible, to refine them to what I feel is the essence of the specific work and of video art in general.
The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
Currently I don’t really have a studio, but I am scheduled to move into one in the next few months, which is a new and exciting experience for me. Until then, I am working from home. So, in a way, I spend almost all of my time in the studio and work on my art, either physically or conceptually, from the moment I get up, to when I go to bed. Since I am an interdisciplinary artist, working in various media and usually on very large pieces, my studio practice must be dynamic and able to change according to the specific piece I am working on. This essentially means that the tools, the materials and the space that I use to create my works must be able to constantly move and transform. I plan to continue this kind of practice in my new studio as well, so it will allow for an artistic space that does not limit the types of works and projects I take upon myself, that may demand variating studio conditions.
I also believe that an artist should usually be totally devoted to creation – to work from morning until they drop or can no longer focus. That is why I feel it’s important that the studio be pleasant and even suitable for occasionally spending the night, so the artist can spend as much time as needed within the artistic “zone”.
What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
When I started making art I thought of it as a pure practice and didn’t consider all the additional non-artistic work I would have to do as well. In a way, I am also my own secretary: I often make phone calls, arrange meetings and write proposals for funding my longer and more complex projects, in order to be able to see them through. I am also my own agent and advertising company.
When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?
I used to think that one should only work when the muse is upon them, but, as I got older, I became less romantic and realized that it is not always possible to wait for the muse, and I must sometimes “force” myself to work – either because of deadlines or just busy periods that leave less time for studio practice. I believe that sometimes the best works are made even without a muse, when I don’t necessarily feel it is the best time to work, but I just do it because I should. I don’t have a specific time of day that I dedicate to art, but I try to work as much as I can while keeping in touch with my gut feelings, and inner voice.
How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?
I think that I can divide the past five years of my artistic work into two major stages: in the first 2-3 years I was mach more focused on the work itself and less on promotion, while in the last two years I work very hard on promoting my art and putting it out there, both in Israel and abroad. Also, right now I work much more often on series of works or large and complex projects, while in the past I created individual works that existed in their own right. This also means that I spend more time conceptualizing the works that are more complex and attempting to secure funding and support for their realization. Despite these elements, I don’t feel that my work has changed profoundly, but I do spend longer periods contemplating my art, either planning its practical implications or pondering the theory behind it, trying to figure out how to remain innovative at a time when the world seems to have seen everything.
How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?
My family always has a great influence on me and my work, either directly, since I constantly consult them about my art, or indirectly – I find inspiration in little moments between us and in experiences we have together and apart and I believe that it all sinks in and slowly forms ideas and concepts, even if only subconsciously. I also find inspiration in the family business – my parents own a toy shop that also sells magazines and stationary, and it is always very vibrant, full of people and colorful pop items, so it’s a good place for me to explore current trends and the ways I can incorporate them into my work. I am influenced by people close to me but also by artists, philosophers, writers, and anyone that I encounter that has a fresh perspective on things. I try to keep an open mind and to develop a dialogue that may be artistic and even somewhat existentialistic.
Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests?
Like I mentioned before, I once wanted to be a chef. At one time, I was also a professional athlete and competed in light athletics and short distance running events. In general I like sports, especially soccer and basketball, so I did see myself pursuing an athletic career of some kind. I’m also a very big film and TV buff.
Shahar Tuchner, born 1987, is an interdisciplinary artist living and working in Israel. Tuchner is a graduate of the Open Program at Hamidrasha School of art at Beit Berl College (2010).
His works have been shown in many group exhibitions at leading galleries and art spaces in Israel and around the world, including: Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburg, Rochester Contemporary Art Center (USA), 5th Base Gallery in London, The Wilson – Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum (UK), the Umm el-Fahem Art Gallery, the Center for Contemporary Art (CCA), Contemporary by Golconda Gallery and Tavi Gallery in Tel Aviv (Israel) and more.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.