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.


Matan Ben-Cnaan | CV
Born 1980 Israel
Lives and works in Israel


2011 MFA, Haifa University
2007 BEd in Fine Arts and Educational Sciences, Oranim Academic College


2018 Solo Show, Tel Aviv Museum
2018 Solo Show, Zemack Contemporary Art
2015 BP portrait Award 2015, National Portrait Gallery, London
2014 Group Show, Fresh Paint “Special Edition” Art Fair, Tel Aviv
2013 Solo Show, Ha’tahana Gallery, Tel Aviv
2012 Group Show, Ha’tahana Gallery, Tel Aviv
2012 Bound/Unbound, JLima Gallery, Easton, PA.
2012 Hai-Fa: Construction of Reality, Grand Art Contemporary Art Gallery, Haifa
2011 Shvartse Vilde Haye, Zemack Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv
2010 Frame to Reality, Haifa Museum of Art, Haifa
2009 Lolita, The office Gallery, Tel Aviv
2009 Group Show, Fresh Paint Art Fair, Tel Aviv
2008 Solo Show, Emek-Yisrael’s College Gallery
2008 Solo Show, Fresh Paint Art Fair, Tel Aviv
2008 Giluy Shem; Works by Promising Graduates from all of Israel, Haifa University
2007 Graduation Show, Oranim College


Winner of the 2018 Haim Shiff Prize for Figurative-Realistic Art, Tel Aviv Museum of Art
Winner of the prestigious BP PORTRAIT AWARD 2015 at the National Portrait gallery.
Winner of prestigious “Giluy-Shem”, University of Haifa, Department of Fine Arts.
Recipient of the Honor Scholarship For Excellence in Arts
Graduated Magna Cum Laude