Avital Cnaani


Jan 2020 - Sturdy (Main Gallery)


Avital Cnaani

Born in 1978.
Lives and works in Tel-Aviv


2006-2008 M.F.A - Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem
2001-2005 B.ED in art education, Hamidrasha School of Visual Art, Beit-Berl College

Solo Exhibitions

2019  Sturdy, Maya Gallery, Tel-Aviv
2018  A foot in the sea, The lobby – place for art, Tel-Aviv
2016  After the wind, Ein-Harod Museum
2015  Black Bird, Redtory Museum of art, Guangzohu.
2013  Holding to Edges, one project-tree exhibition-three galleries, Israel.

2012  Falling mountain, SOMA museum of art, Seoul, S. Korea.

Name: Chaya, Gallery 39, Tel-Aviv, Israel

2011  Heroica, Petach-Tikva Museum of Art, Israel

Tosafist, Gallery 39, Tel Aviv, Israel
2010  Avital Cnaani, Herzliya Museum of Art, Israel

Strangler Fig, Harlem Studio, New York, NY 2008 Sill, Artists House, Tel Aviv, Israel
2007  Solo Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel
2004   Cabri Art Gallery, Israel 


Selected Group Exhibitions

2018   Nature does not long for happiness.
2017   He never stayed for breakfast, Kupferman collection

Along the line, atelier Shemi, Kibbutz Cabri

Drawing Biennial, Jerusalem Print workshop gallery, Jerusalem, Israel

2016   New Horizon for new horizons, Ein-Harod museum

Allegory of now, Artist house, Tel-Aviv 2015 Out of proportion, Open University gallery

2014   Dynasties, Haifa Museum of Art

Fresh Paint Art Fair, Tel Aviv, Israel

Chicago Triangle, Haifa Museum of Art
2013   The 5th Biennale for drawing in Israel, Jerusalem, Israel

Space Shuttle Project, Tel-Aviv Municipality
2012   Patterns of behavior, Jerusalem Print workshop gallery, Jerusalem, Israel

Lines, Ticho House, the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel 2011 Body without Body, Georg Kolbe Museum, Berlin, Germany 2010   Oversees Project, Givatayim Art Gallery, Israel

Fall, Ehrlich Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel
2009   Sculpture Now, Bezalel Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel

Neues Sehen – Junge Kunst aus Israel, Städtische galerie, Bremen, Germany 2008 Power Show 04, Kuandu Museum, Taipei, Taiwan

Borderline / Mirror-Like, Huashan Culture Park, Taipei, Taiwan

Salame 008 – MFA Graduate Exhibition, Bezalel Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel Fresh-Paint art fair, Tel Aviv, Israel
Regba, Barbur Gallery, Jerusalem, Israel

2007   Four Decades of Feminism in Israeli Art, Haifa Museum, Israel

2006   2006, Gordon Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel
2005   The Scream – Homage to Munch, Line 16 Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel


2010-2014   Sailing Bird / dance and sculpture – collaboration with the choreographer Anat Shamgar, Susanne-Dellal Center, Tel-Aviv

2012   The Phoenix, with the sculptor Nir Adoni, Mazeh 9 - space for art, Tel-Aviv

Awards and Scholarships

2015   The Pais (Israeli Lottery) Culture Grant Rabinovich Foundation grant

2014   Asylum Arts, New-York
2013   Siena Art Institute, Siena, Italy
2012   The Pais (Israeli Lottery) Culture Grant

Rabinovich Foundation grant 

Jerusalem Print Workshop Scholarship

2010    Mongin Art Center Fellowship, Seoul

Harlem Studio Fellowship by Montarioarte, New York
2009   Young Artist Award, The Israeli Ministry of Culture
2008   Creativity Encouragement Scholarship, Bezalel Academy of Art

America-Israel Cultural Foundation Scholarship 2005 Excellence Award, Hamidrasha School of Visual Art 2004-2005 America-Israel Cultural Foundation Grant

2005   Excellence Award, Hamidrasha School of Visual Art

2004-2005   America-Israel Cultural Foundation Grant

Exhibition - Sturdy | Avital Cnaani

Cardboard Back


Surprisingly, the word “Cardboard” first appeared in the English language as an alternative drawing surface – in Ann Brontë’s novel The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848). When the future husband of Helen Graham, the novel’s heroine, observes a faded drawing on the backside of one of her works, she worryingly notes that “the pencil frequently leaves an impression upon cardboard that no amount of rubbing can efface”. Helen is anxious that once the man will recognize the image, which depicts his own portrait, he will know of her true feelings for him. The story presents the cardboard as the insignificant backside of the drawing, but also as a material that inscribes the truth. 


In her show “Sturdy”, Avital Cnaani uses cardboard not only as a drawing surface, but also as a material for sculpture and as an ontological object. It serves as a material for the creation of three dimensional stains, or is presented in its entirety as abandoned storage boxes, carrying their original marks and labels. Although, as opposed to her previous shows, in the current show the drawings are “drawingly” hung and the sculptures are “sculpturely” mounted, the two media continue to blend in space. Ultimately, cardboard is made of paper, and is essentially a two dimensional material.


The One and the Inside


Following the word’s literary etymology, one could continue to elaborate about cardboard usage throughout art history, from the early 20th century Cubist collages and Dada masks, through Andy Warhol’s reversed ready-made Brillo boxes of the 1960s, and finally the usage of quotidian materials by the local Want of Matter. But the exhibition’s surroundings does not draw from these art historical connotations. Cnaani investigates the cardboard itself, as an abstract entity holding a physical, or more specifically spatial, function.


A cardboard box is a leftover, a packaging or covering. Its shape is designated by what it holds. By using it, Cnaani continues her preoccupation in the surface of materials, as seen in her previous Formica sculptures. Similarly to Formica, which disguises itself as another material, cardboard too is affiliated with make-believe, as the word is also used to describe something fake, or provisional. Indeed, Cnaani’s use of cardboard summons a child-like imaginary game: the painted cardboard cut outs seem as props in a children theater play, and the large boxes invites us to play “house”.


But the images painted on the boxes do not seek representation; at least not in the straightforward sense of the word. And as opposed to the boxes’ flat exteriors, the full, amorphic stains mark an inside. Contrary to Cnaani’s previous sculptures, which were made in pieces, her present works are channeled towards the single. Complete cardboard boxes carry whole images. The latter are spread across a grid formed by the boxes’ folding marks, so that the disassembling of both image and surface is derived from the boxes’ production conditions. Drifting across the show, the viewer is propelled by a constant tension between the consolidation of the singular to its segmentation.


Land, Sea, Air


In contrast to Cnaani’s wooden and Formica constructions, which seemed like dry skeletons, the cardboard has a kind of liveliness to it. When it is stained by color, it changes its texture, similarly to beach sand in its repeated meeting with the sea water. It is as if the puddled stains, primary amoebas and whale-like wombs that are spread across the boxes move between land and sea while performing an archaic moment of evolutionary stranding; a mitosis of division and segmentation. However, these images also follow a closed circle of life and death, or a nullifying primacy. The narrow, upright boxes seem like vertical coffins, suited to the dimensions of the flat bodies imprinted on and inside them. Thus, these sturdy cardboard shells remain at a loss.


Deep Ecology/Low-Grade Cardboard


Allegedly, this cardboard show could not have opened in a more fitting timing – at the pick of public awareness to the ecological crises. Indeed, Cnaani did not only used cardboard, which is made of recycled paper, but also appropriated cardboard labeled as “low-grade”. Recycling the recycled. Nonetheless, this is by no means a show of recycled art, or “Junk  Art”, delivering some kind of an activist ecological message. Cnaani acts from within a “deep ecology”, as she terms it. A personal ecology, through which she ponders the mere possibility of creating art in a world of abundance, and strives for reduction. To return to the singular.

Keren Goldberg