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Beautiful Musings

Artist Yigal Ozeri talks about process, his own work and efforts to get Mana Contemporary Chicago off the ground.

Artist Yigal Ozeri, whose "Photorealism in the Digital Age" exhibit opened at Mana Contemporary Chicago this past winter

Modern master Yigal Ozeri, best known in the world of photorealism for his allegorical portraits of women in natural environments, has turned his artistic gaze toward Chicago. His exquisite series, Photorealism in the Digital Age, debuted this past February at the new Mana Contemporary Chicago—a cultural center in Pilsen that provides services, spaces and programming for artists, collectors, students and community.

As co-founder of Mana Contemporary Jersey City, the organization’s first location, Ozeri opened the 400,000-square-foot arts facility alongside co-founder Micha Lang. Mana is set up to mirror its successful sister center out east, and is just as full of ambition as it is art. The warehouse boasts two floors of artist studios, a library and a cafe, with plans for a full-scale restaurant and green roof deck. “The idea was to create a beautiful space for the artist, a magnet for the collector and a strong support system for the community,” Lang says. Efforts for artist reinforcement include housing a print shop and art shipping company in the building. An art restorer and frame shop are scheduled to join the mix soon.

Ozeri brings his incredible talent and injects an unparalleled energy into the art community, which is evident when one looks at Mana’s jam-packed schedule for the fall. Exhibitions, performances, art fairs, lectures, workshops and open studio tours are all on the calendar. “I will be very happy if we can bring artists from Chicago to New York and vice versa, to exchange ideas and community. I would love for it to be a big center one day,” says Ozeri.

As for the Photorealism series, Ozeri plans to continue exploring the subject of femininity. “I will always paint women,” he says. “To me, it’s the most interesting subject there is. Women in nature represent a total freedom—the ultimate beauty.”