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Lavi Daniel

(1954)
Lavi Daniel (b. 1954)  was born and raised in Los Angeles, California and has been painting since he was a small child, influenced by time spent in his grandfather’s sculpting studio. 

At age 17, he won a four -year scholarship to Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts but left after  six months, opting to pursue self-study. He found a room in a redwood cabin on the Mendocino coast that functioned as a studio, while living in a tepee he and his cousin built on logging land nearby. 

He met his future wife, Diane, in 1975. Together, they took what little money they had and traveled to the rain forests of Borneo, where they collected  rare antique textiles,  a trade that supported them for the next 25 years.

In 1985 Daniel had his first exhibition at the Newport Harbor Art Museum, where he showed abstract paintings built with a figurative means, following a theme of "Threat and Shelter.” The following works then shifted strongly, marking what would be a lifelong pattern of investigating a direction deeply, then abruptly diverging into new areas of exploration. Daniel's next works were finger applied oil paintings, with a vocabulary devised to carry on a conversation about the relationship between inner and outer phenomena,  consciousness, and manifestation.

In 1995, his wife was diagnosed with cancer, which took her life five years later. Daniel reacted to his wife's death by exploring pastels and creating what curator Anne Ayres called "light-drenched fields of brilliant atmospheric color."

By 2003, Daniel moved from these amorphous fields in pastel into more abstract architectonic compositions, shifting scale and creating parables of space.

Around 2015, Daniel began to make hard edge abstract colored pencil drawings that he would later make into large scale oil paintings. He followed a new theme he called ”The Dance of Perpetuity:"

"The inspiration for this body of work comes from seeing images of the birds of paradise of Papua New Guinea. They present in spectacular feather costumes, preparing their stages, and performing songs and dance for the purpose of spreading their genes. I construe their performance as a 'dance of perpetuity.' That prompt, provides license to move toward extreme opulence, indulging in intense color relationships, intent on expressing the depths of joy and promise."

 He continued in this direction over the next six years, at times shifting the vocabulary's source as a means of varying the imagery. The colored fragments would receive inspiration from the ocean and rock shapes of the north coast of California, and later from the hoodoo and cloud formations of New Mexico.

2022 saw another  evolution in Daniel’s work,  with small pastels and large scale oil paintings inspired by the rediscovery of a pastel drawing that Daniel made at the age of 7, assuming the perspective of the young boy some sixty years later.

Daniel has had solo exhibitions at  the James Corcoran Gallery, Los Angeles; Long Beach Art Museum, Long Beach; Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach;  Honolulu Academy of Arts, Honolulu, Hawaii; Rosamund Felsen Gallery, Santa Monica; Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena; and Hunsaker/Schlesinger Fine Art, Santa Monica, among others.  

He has participated in group exhibitions at University of Rhode Island, Kingston; Hunsaker/Schlesinger Fine Art, Santa Monica; Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena;  Cheney Cowles Museum, Spokane, Washington;   L.A. Louver Gallery, Venice, CA;  Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art (LAICA), Los Angeles; and the  San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, among others. 

Daniel currently lives and works with his partner, the interior designer Susan Stella, in Tesuque, NM, and Fort Bragg, northern California.