Artist Jac Lahav on Alchemy and abstraction.

Jac Lahav, “Delightful Angle (Earthtone Alchemy #1),” (2021), Acrylic, flash, pencil, vine charcoal, 24K Gold leaf on canvas, courtesy of the artist and Nava Contemporary

What does it mean to look at and experience art digitally? Viewing art through platforms such as Instagram is nothing new, but the COVID-19 Pandemic has brought about a rise of what many probably wouldn’t have considered before: the digital gallery. NAVA Contemporary is amongst many others who have curated digital only exhibitions during the last twelve months, currently is showing work in the virtual sphere by artist Jac Lahav. Lahav, who I was introduced to by the lovely curator and friend Kari Adelaide, is a multifaceted artist who makes abstract paintings, illustrations and portraits. His show at NAVA Contemporary is a new body of work titled, “Earthtone Alchemy” and it is on view through June 15.

Admittedly, spending much of my day browsing Instagram, I still can find it somewhat challenging to truly connect with or comprehend art not intended for the screen, through the screen. I am not a big fan of galleries that create digital models of spaces that do not actually exist. So I asked Jac to do a studio visit through FaceTime. Now, while this is also a digital methodology, I find that I immediately respond to the fact that there is a person as reference for form and space. Having a body, in this case the artist, present, allowed me to get a better understanding of scale, texture and even color. What does the paint look like when a hand brushes up against the surface? For that matter, based on the size of a hand and a body, how large is the canvas and what is the relationship to the wall, or surface it rests on? These are questions I ask myself and the virtual studio visit can ease these inquiries.

In our virtual visit, Lahav shared about his overall practice, his portraits of RBG, and our mutual love for pizza and Baby Yoda, aka Grogru, both of which often appear in his illustrations. For “Earthtone Alchemy” the artist reminisced about his time spent in Israel. The palette and shapes portrayed were inspired by ancient aqueducts in Caesarea Maritima, arid land and the Mediterranean Sea. Using a palette knife and scraping technique, each surface was built up and in some instances traced by a fine line of gold or turquoise blue. Made during the Pandemic, he was quick to admit that the unconscious played a role, brought on by introspection and isolation.

“My history with painting began with a search of the unconscious,” he shared, continuing, “alchemy, and a love of unicorns. It’s all in there.”

Jac Lahav, “May We Find Angels” (2021), mixed media sculpture, courtesy of the artist and NAVA Contemporary

Perhaps Lahav’s lines, and sense of containing and connection is a metaphor for not only his work, but to this past year and our collective experiences. As we’ve all learned to navigate within the realm of lines borders, masks, politics, injustices, a return to the simplest of forms, in this case the circle, is a comforting shape. It’s the sun, a child in utero, a bouncing ball, and the iris many mammals share. Often it’s in stepping back, that one can find exactly what they are looking for. Lahav is on a journey and perhaps Saint Francis of Assisi said it best, wherein ‘by self-forgetting that one finds.’


Katy Diamond Hamer is an arts professional with a focus on writing, social media and consulting. She is the founder of Eyes Towards the Dove with a focus contemporary art and culture. For more of her work visit and follow her art adventures of Instagram @katyhamer