We had the good fortune of connecting with Sivan Lavie and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sivan, what’s one piece of conventional advice that you disagree with?
I disagree with the statement ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ I mean, on a very two-dimensional level, it’s true. If you’ve done something hard, but you’re not dead, you’re probably still alive. But on a deeper level, in what state are you? I think we live in a society that teaches you to throw yourself against walls all the time. Be something. Do more. And honestly, in the long run, that doesn’t work. It’s not sustainable. I think it’s good to expand, to grow, to challenge yourself, as an artist or in any other field. But – it’s a much softer, more delicate movement, like a song. The idea that we always need to run forward and into water that’s too deep can be harmful, I’ve found, because we means that something is compromised. Maybe our health, or relationships. I’m finding out slowly that dealing with my fear step by step is a more manageable way to grow as a person and as an artist. To challenge myself and keep working, but also to find ways to relieve the heavy load I put on myself sometimes. Like, “I must be successful. Now.” Maybe success is a slower rhythm? Maybe incubation is part of the process? When I listen to the true rhythm of life, and the real pace that I am, that my soul is, that’s when I make the best art, and there’s a clarity to what’s about to come next. What project is most important, or what I should research next, step by step.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My art speaks to the body, not to the mind. I paint mostly colored circles and lines that float on a white canvas- my work has a lot of air in it, and it’s a meditation. It really aims to create space to breathe. Everything else I do, too: drawing, writing, performance, goes with that same aim, to give people space to be,feel, breathe. I also want to put a positive, colorful spin on things. I try to remind my viewers, people, that life is really funny, that we don’t have to be really serious all the time. I tap into this idea that there’s an ever-present smile in the sky: how can we choose to reconnect to that smile when we are feeling really rigid and serious about life? How can we return to a childlike fascination and curiosity? To seeing how funny dogs are, and people? How goofy everything is?
My paintings are very abstract and play with color and materials. The process is bodily, I let my body guide me and follow my intuition. My inspiration is nature and movement. In my poetry I write about how emotions are processed in the body, using imagery of colors and nature. It’s fun, my work. I hope that anyone (a child or an elderly person) can enjoy my poems and paintings. A connoisseur or someone completely foreign to the art world.
It was not easy getting to where I am today. Not at all. I’ve dealt with a lot of psychological fear, pain, and insecurity. That kind of stuff comes into the work itself. I really play with and talk about falling down and getting back up. How to deal with fear. How to just be. Patience is so important in creative processes. I try to tap into the spiritual notion that the universe is steering me to where I need to be, and slowly but surely things are happening, as long as I am with myself, doing what I need to do and trusting the universe.
Right now I’m making an Affirmation sticker book that . It involves all the things I do and like: writing, paintings, humor, meditation. I’ll be selling it online and in a couple of local book fairs.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’ve been a nomad for 6 months now. I lived in Tel Aviv, a busy city for five years and had enough. It’s been an exhilarating journey, and for anyone who feels stuck where they are, I would really recommend travelling. No where in particular, just going. I’ve been taking sublets in any place I could think of or come across the name of. I’ve seen trees, grasses and waters, places and people I never would’ve met if I didn’t take the bold step to leave town. I’ve got a couple of books and paints in my bag, and any place I get to becomes my studio. Once in a while I head back to the city to drop off a few things and head out again. I find the stress and pace of the city really hard, it really gets to me. So going out into nature really helps me to remember everything is okay, there’s no where to run. When I see trees moving in the breeze, it’s a different world from construction sites and tall buildings and fast cars. It removes me from the rat-race and calms me down instantly, reminding me who I am and what I want to do, and the stress diminishes.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Right now I’m thinking of Richard Brautigan. He has these really wacky novels, my friend, the writer Chloe Myerson introduced me to him. He takes the concept of a book, shakes it and turns it upside down. It’s so inspiring and refreshing to see someone completely challenging a medium, stretching it and what we can do with it. I love that. It’s like turning a book into an object and a song and a comic all at once, then kicking it around, throwing fruit loops on it then kissing it. Genius. His writing is also so cute and funny and naive.
Another big shoutout right now for me is vipasana meditation. These are retreats where you meditate with a large group of people for a week or so. You wake up, meditate. You eat, you meditate. You eat, you meditate. You listen to lectures on meditation. Not only is it amazing to meditate in a group setting, but the meditation teachers I met recently have been such lights. The stuff you meet there inside yourself is so intricate and the spiritual self development is huge. I went on a 7 days’ retreat recently and felt so hugged by the universe. I felt so seen. It was such a nice atmosphere, it was something that I was so proud to be part of. I would really recommend it to anyone, but definitely after doing some grounding work in meditation. They’ve got these retreats all the time, all over the world.
Selection of photos by: Youval Hai; Mati Mati Elmaliach; Alina Deckel