Avner Zabari is an artist as uncommon as his art. The whimsical and expressionistic style of his work mirrors his personality, while the deep, textured color of his art mimics his storied life. His primitive aesthetic is a commonplace, where all cultures and schools of thought come to bathe. It is a celebration of the diversity that is humankind.
Born near Tel Aviv in 1960, Zabari credits the skillful hands of his grandfather, a well-known local silversmith, with, what he refers to as, “my first peek into the world of beauty.” After leaving the army at the age of 21, Zabari was eager to take in the intricacies of man's world. Young and curious, he journeyed the romantic cafes and intimate evenings of Europe. He traveled to South America, where the relics left by primitive cultures first impressed him.
He continued his journeys to Miami, a city that seemed to provide the impetus for what Zabari wanted to create.
With no formal art education, Zabari began painting. Zabari remembers, “I would paint everything.” From canvas to slabs of scrap wood, Zabari lent an indiscriminating brush to everything. It was early experiments with wood that led to future works. “I was fascinated with the temperament of the wood. The way the color would bleed or hold depending on the consistencies of the wood.”
“When I was in South America, I met an old man who would create the most brilliant colors. I stayed with him for two days and studied his techniques. We didn't speak, because I spoke no Spanish, but, he taught me a lot about color.”
Soon, Zabari began making scheduled trips to area thrift stores and used furniture shops, from Miami to Palm Beach. “It was religious” Zabari jokes, “I was fanatical. All the guys at the stores knew me.”
Working from a makeshift studio in the garage of his Miami home, Zabari began creating art from discards, resurrecting past-their-prime chairs, tables, wardrobes anything he could get his hands on. With an intent eye on color, Zabari honed his skills, mastering the methods of wood staining.
Interest in his garage creations began to rise, and Zabari began selling his work. What started as a hobby grew into his livelihood, and Zabari was soon loading boudoirs into the back of his pick up truck bound for galleries and boutiques throughout South Florida. As Zabari's art matured, his need for more personal subject matter began to grow.
With a firm, “I can do that” attitude, he began to learn the nuances of furniture making. Days in the garage and nights in the library provided the artist with the formal education he required.
Zabari parlayed his need to recreate himself into a collection of colorful and deeply personal art furniture, every year challenging himself to create new aesthetics while holding true to the style that characterizes all his works. The beauty of his art form begins with natural pine that is further enhanced by a sun-weathering process. Five to ten layers of paint and pigment are applied at different stages, resulting in a magnificent blend of colors. His intriguing use of symbols and mysterious compartments are all part of his whimsical free-form designs.
After premiering his line at shows in New York and Atlanta, Zabari was selected to attend the illustrious American Craft Council show in Baltimore, 1996. “I got lucky, I came up with an original idea, and it just clicked.” remembers Zabari. Baltimore was a turning point in Zabari's career. No longer did he need to trek to galleries around South Florida with pieces in his pick-up, the artist was now receiving calls from galleries throughout the country and the world. Zabari's work had broken out of South Florida, and was now being collected as far as Japan, Europe, Australia and South Africa.
“Now, the idea is to keep up the excitement, to keep it alive after the success of Baltimore. You always have to be fresh, to visualize what the next direction is”
To keep up with demand, Zabari moved into a new Miami studio and hired a full time staff of apprentices. He has since developed a style that has consistently impressed collectors with new aesthetics while staying true to the methods and artistry he is known for. Constantly experimenting with unconventional materials, Zabari's work supplies him with a perpetual education. Stone, wood, metal and leather are among the elements in his repertoire.
· Avner Zabari
· River Turnings
· Shoestring Creations
· David Brethauer
· Raw Design
· Davin and Kesler, Inc.
· Mikutowski Woodworking
· Sugarboo Designs