Marek Yanai

Marek Yanai was born in Germany in 1946 and immigrated to Israel from Poland in 1957. He graduated from the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem in 1970, where he was a student of Yosef Hirsch. In 1973 and 1974 he studied techniques of the Old Masters at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna and the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Art, Madrid. From 1996 until today he is a senior lecturer at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem and also teaches in his own studio. Yanai lives and works in Jerusalem and is a father of two.

Body of Work

Yanai’s works are figurative and strive to interpret reality. His subjects are the Jerusalem landscape and people. His watercolor portraits depict friends, students, lecturers and other people in his life. This series is renowned for his work with patches of color and his ability to reveal the character of his subjects using these marks and strong tones. His landscape series ostensibly deals with rather banal and mundane subjects such as solar panels on roofs, gas tanks and washing hanging out to dry. Yet through their banality, these scenes reflect the complexity of the city’s soul. Yanai’s creativity offers a picture of the spirit of the times in his vicinity.

Watercolor and Oil Painting

Yanai has created a virtuosic body of work in watercolor. It is characterized by instinctive itemion of wet marks that permit randomness in the dispersal of the water. The making of the marks creates a figurative image. Yanai’s oil painting differs greatly from his work in watercolor in technique, style and temperament. His oil painting is realistic and built up over time, layer upon layer, like the technique used by 17th and 18th Century European painters. Predominant themes in his work are entrances to, and interiors of, Jerusalem houses, and Jerusalem figures and landscapes.


From 1996 until the present, he is a senior lecturer at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design Jerusalem, and also teaches in his studio. He has had a great influence on generations of artists in the painting, design and animation fields. The principle of the studio’s activities is painting from observation. The studio is characterized by a great respect for the craftsmanship in painting: drawing as a basis for painting, line and mark, composition, color theory, and faithfulness to the unwritten laws passed down through the centuries that are the foundations of art. Craftsmanship is repeatedly exercised as a value leading to personal interpretation and creative self-expression in a variety of media: drawing, oil and watercolor. Work takes place both in the studio space and, ‘en plein air’ in the Jerusalem landscape.
Photo credit: Naor Gamliel