An exhibition by Raglan artist Yaniv Janson, previously displayed in Paris and New York, will feature for the first time in New Zealand at ArtsPost, the gallery of the Waikato Museum in Hamilton.
Opening on 9 January, the Please Do Touch exhibition features a series of paintings that explore United Nations Sustainable Development Goals such as climate change, water quality, oceanic ecological systems, poverty and sustainable cities.
Each painting is partnered with another to represent what will happen if we take action, as opposed to doing nothing.
Please Do Touch was exhibited in 2017 in Paris, supported by Creative New Zealand. In 2018, it travelled to New York and represented New Zealand at the UN Headquarters.
“My audience tells me they connect emotionally to my work,” Yaniv says. “My paintings ask them to visualise social, environmental and climatic challenges.”
Painting has been an important part of Yaniv’s life since 2007. Throughout his creative journey, a central theme has remained constant: to empower individuals to use expression, outreach and education as a tool for social change. He combines art with activism to get people’s attention on environmental and social issues.
Yaniv has partnered with the Te Uku Primary School near Raglan for an educational project that combines raising awareness of environmental and social sustainability among students and eliciting actions.
His dream is to take Please Do Touch to all schools in New Zealand. He’s put together a Sustainable Goals Journal for students, inviting them to express their creativity on its pages and motivating them to take action on environmental issues.
Yaniv has autism and epilepsy but says he doesn’t let either dictate who he is. He likes to paint on a large canvas, using vibrant colours to draw people into his works.
His idea of Please Do Touch came from his desire to enable people to experience art through different senses and to challenge what is done and not done in the art world.
“I come up with my own ideas and I feel like I’m different to other artists,” Yaniv says. “I’m shy and I’ve had to work really hard to overcome my fear of public speaking. I prefer to show colours and paintings rather than using words.
“But it’s important for me to show that disability is not a barrier to achieving.”
Earlier this year, Yaniv was awarded the Arts Access PAK’nSAVE Artistic Achievement Award 2019 at Arts Access Aotearoa’s Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Awards 2019.
Yaniv has exhibited in more than 40 galleries in New Zealand, France, Montenegro, Canada, Israel and the United States. He has sold more than 160 paintings, won 20 awards and is the youngest guest artist invited to exhibit at the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts in Wellington. Five of his works are in the Wallace Arts Trust collection.