Amit Bar (OMP Member #5191) is an artist and photographer who is definitely pushing the envelope when it comes to the art of bodypainting.
The Netherlands resident’s artistic background consisted of years of studying various art forms. “I was born in Israel and lived there until I finished my studies in 1988. When I was growing up, I would always work on drawing and painting in my free time. In 1984, I began to study Creative Art and Comparative Literature at The University of Haifa. Four years later, I received my B.A. in Humanities. During my studies, I decided to dedicate myself to photography. My final project there was focused on children photography.”
Although he ended up choosing photography as his main career, Amit didn’t want to abandon drawing and painting altogether. “Therefore, in 1992 I decided to mix them, by making photo-collages. The photos were made first and afterwards they were cut and glued. A drawing or painting around the composed collage completed the artwork. Because I realized that I had to take many photos to be able to make one collage, I decided in 1995 to combine drawing, painting and photography together and do bodypainting. For this, the process was reversed — first the painting is done, then the photos are taken afterwards.”
The results proved to be very successful. Amit describes several of his favorite bodypainting projects. “The first project was called ‘Double Dutch.’ I painted two girls in three colors which represented the Dutch flag. I wanted to make a work that would be ‘typically Dutch.’ This bodypainting portrait now hangs in the Dutch Parliament house. Another theme was the ‘Hungry Giraffe.’ As a part of my recent project entitled ‘Women with Pets,’ I was charmed by the color-patches on giraffes. Nevertheless, using a real giraffe seemed a little risky for both the model and myself. Therefore I chose to paint the model like a giraffe in the studio, and leave the real one at the zoo. A third project had a ‘Greek’ theme. Inspired by the old times, I transferred the elements of ancient Greece amphoras to the skin of the model.”
Amit has also creatively incorporated video production into his projects. “In my neighborhood, there was an abandoned iron factory, which I used eight years ago as a backdrop for a bodypainting project, ‘Old Paint.’ Recently I went back there and saw that the building was totally renovated and is going to be used as a cultural center. One of the walls was printed as a section of a blown-up black-and-white photo. This wall inspired me to go back and create a new bodypainting, called ‘New Paint.’ Because my model Eline (OMP Model #460172) is a dancer as well, I decided to make a film to capture the bodypainting. After finishing the painting, I shot Eline while she was dancing. Then I asked her to dance a few extra minutes to the music of Vivaldi. This may be the first time that a film focused on the combination of dancing and bodypainting.” OMP members can view the film (which includes artistic nudity) on Vimeo.
Amit’s bodypainting technique relies on pencils, sponges and brushes. “I do not use airbrushing in my work. Although I think that an airbrush creates better covering and nicer overflow of colors, I wish to avoid creating pollution. The paint might be harmless for the skin, but who knows what happens to the lungs of the model and the bodypainter?”
He offers the following advice for other artists who are experimenting with new media. “Try to make every project something totally different than your former work. Take inspiration from anything and anyone that you meet or encounter along the way.”
Amit also reminds bodypainters to keep their photography skills honed, or to hire a photographer on the day of each project, so that the artwork can be preserved. “Some bodypainters do great work, but don’t take the photography of their work serious enough, which is a pity! After all, the photos and videos are the only things that remain when the project is done and the paint is washed away!”
See more of Amit’s work on his OMP Portfolio.