Roy Nachum pictured with Metamorphosis, 2011, oil on canvas. All images courtesy of Roy Nachum
Art to the Touch
Friday, April 12th, 2013
By Justin Ray
Roy Nachum wants to share his vision with the vision-impaired. Born in Jerusalem and now based in New York, Nachum incorporates Braille poetry into his evocative oil paintings. We spoke with the artist about how translating his hyperreal aesthetic for those who cannot see is all part of his ongoing exploration of perception.
JR: What sparked your interest in Braille?
Roy Nachum: My romance with typography, attention to detail, and my fascination with sight naturally led me to Braille. On one particular visit to a museum, I was drawn to the Braille signposts affixed on walls, in staircases, and in elevators, and I had a flash of awareness: If one cannot see, and is forbidden to touch, how can one experience a visual work of art? How does one create a painting for a blind person? Conflicted, I began to develop a process, sculpting Braille pixels with a pallet knife onto the surface of my canvases, and painting with oil on top.
JR: Your work explores the idea of perception—what about this fascinates you so much?
RN: Art is based on perception and so is life. Things are how we choose to ‘see’ them. Perceptions come from experience, and experience solidifies ideas and ideals. My paintings, somewhere between illusion and reality, offer insight into my perceptions and the ongoing conflict between the instinctive and the demands of civilization.
JR: Childhood seems to be a recurring part of your work.
RN: The boy who reappears in many of my paintings represents me as a child. He symbolizes dreams, hopes, fears, and the young mind’s perception of the world.
JR: Speaking of life, experience, and perception, would you rather have a pause button or a rewind button in your life?
RN: I have made peace with the past, good or bad. What is in the past has passed. I always look forward. But to pause a valuable moment, to revel in it, to experience it knowingly, is invaluable.