It is always the dream of any artist to get recognition as this means an increase in collectability of his/her art. It is therefore quite exciting for Shai Yossef, an Israeli artist, to be granted an opportunity to display his painting "Renty" on billboards in Los Angeles this December. Renty, also known as "Noah's son", is actually the real name of the painted character. He was a slave in South Carolina and he's chilling evidence of widespread slavery in the 18th and 19th centuries across the USA, especially in the south.
The portrait has been painted from a photograph of Renty that was shot in March 1850 by photographer Zealy J.T. It is one in a series of similar photographs that were commissioned by Swiss scientist Agassiz Louis to support his theory that Africans were a different species and were therefore inferior.
Now through this painting, the artist seeks to show the pain, the humiliation, and the scars left on Renty despite his stature. The subject still stands firm and straight holding a gaze that can only stir cogitation on what it means not to be subdued by difficult circumstances. Like black ink on white paper, Renty looks directly at anyone who dares to stare back.
“While I used to be greatly influenced by the mysterious, the nude, and the goth, today I am mostly influenced by the joy of living, children, the Bible and social issues,” says Shai Yossef. “Even when I express sadness in my works, the value of love remains prominent; less cynicism more innocence - It's very liberating."
The photograph from which the image was painted is displayed in the Peabody Museum, at Harvard University. It shows a rare point of view, the humiliation that Renty experienced as a slave and as an object of scientific curiosity.
About Shai Yossef:
Shai Yossef was born in March, 1980 and currently resides in Rosh Ha'ain. He's an Israeli artist who provides the art world with paintings that are large-scale, highly-texturized, engage in social values and colorful. He studied with the artist Zuriel Sdomi for two years. Yossef is married and is a father of three children. He likes to produce his work on canvas. His original signed prints and paintings are sold nationally and around the globe.
Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/shaijosef