Israeli artist Roy Nachum creates oil paintings that feature fantastical settings and creatures alike. In his recent series, “Blind,” Nachum takes interest in juxtaposing images and words; the words are not legible to just anyone, however. Nachum chooses to lay out poems (written by the artist and inspired by the paintings) in Braille over the canvas, enabling the blind to appreciate his work just as a seeing spectator would. “My hope is that I can strike a variety of emotional chords with blind readers that is similar, but not identical, to what different people with sight take away from a painting,” he said in his artist statement.
The moment that made the artist re-contextualize his signature technique of applying gesso “pixels” to texture a canvas into Braille came about a few years ago, when a chance encounter with Braille signage at a museum exhibition forced him to re-think the ways in which he was conveying meanings, and to who he was conveying them. Nachum’s pieces serve a variety of purposes: they not only communicate meaning, visually and by touch, to a varied audience, but they also give the sighted spectators a sense of awareness of the visually-impaired spectators’ engagement with the artwork. At the same time, the artist “tests our reliance on what we see and force different viewers to re-orient their perception of a work by also employing their sense of touch.”