Raglan artist’s new work right under cafe customers’ noses

He may not be a household name locally, but around Raglan this month artist Yaniv Janson’s work is on many people’s lips.

That’s because local cafes’ takeaway cups have been printed with a set of Yaniv’s latest work, especially for Plastic Free July.

His colourful labels are also on new reusable coffee cups which, in turn, re-use Raglan Coconut Yoghurt jars and are available for local cafe customers to take away for a koha.

Yaniv –  a 25-year-old contemporary painter with a strong social conscience – says this initiative is one way he can contribute to the plastic-free cause in his own community.

The coffee cup designs are prints from his latest project, ‘Please Do Touch’, which breaks with “regulations” and actually invites viewers to experience each piece of art with all their senses.

“Almost no other artist says this (of their exhibits),” Yaniv explains from his family home at the top of Government Road, overlooking the harbour. “I want people to touch my art to see what it’s like.”

Yaniv lives with Asperger’s syndrome, but during the past decade has found an ability to communicate better through art. He now wants to make his work touchable and accessible to all, including those like himself with a disability.

His particular passion is for the ocean and the environment and keeping them beautiful.

That’s evident in the big, bold ‘Please Do Touch’ installations which were scattered about his home when the Chronicle visited last week. Still drying on the dining room table was Yaniv’s tenth and final installation in the series, while another of his acrylics on canvas – entitled Life Below Water – hung halfway up the stairs.

All-up it’s taken this quietly spoken artist more than a year to complete the series.

One of the rewards for Yaniv’s labour of love comes when he travels at the end of next month to Europe courtesy of a Creative New Zealand grant to exhibit his installations, first in Montenegro and later in Paris at UNESCO – a specialised agency of the United Nations.

Yaniv has long dreamed of exhibiting through the United Nations. His installations embrace five of its 17 sustainable development goals, which look at the social and environmental issues in today’s world.

He has enjoyed global exposure such as this since being discovered by UNESCO, soon after completing his three-year online art studies through The Learning Connexion based in Wellington.

While he has a low profile locally Yaniv’s work has now featured in more than 40 exhibitions, in four countries, and he’s received multiple awards, scholarships and sponsorships. He has sold more than 150 paintings, and his work is collected in New Zealand and overseas.

Edith Symes