Matan Ben Cnaan (b.1980) is an Israeli painter whose work combines classical elements and biblical narratives with contemporary art and present-day themes.
Ben Cnaan is the first and only Israeli artist to receive 1st place in the most prestigious award for realistic painters: The BP Portrait Award (2015), The National Portrait Gallery, London for his painting ‘Annabelle and Guy’. The painting narrates the tragic and harrowing tale of Jephthah and his daughter.
The main focus of his work is “scene painting” in which he creates and exposes the viewer to complex moral situations, and explores moral dilemmas, inter-personal relationships, and human behavior. Adopting classical elements into his figurative paintings creates a pictorial language whose vocabulary allows him to express these complex issues on the canvas. The basic sentence structure of this language consists of gestures and positioning acting as verbs and shapes and colors as nouns and adjectives.
Ben Cnaan draws considerable inspiration from the codex of complex, morally laden stories – the bible. He reinterprets the stories and recast them with present day people, to communicate the ageless quality of these basic issues.