In 1974 after graduating from the London Film School, Avi Roth moved to Los Angeles. Roth has been steadily building a body of work since the 1960s. Part documentarian, part flâneur, Roth forces the aesthetic of timelessness open, embracing it so literally that time starts to elide and familiarity becomes more instinctual than historical. His work, coolly discerning and yet perpetually tender, exists outside the constraints of chronology and rejects nostalgia.
His earliest images from the sixties document exactly what his more recent images do: specific, unencumbered moments created by his global persona while shuttering his lenses throughout Europe, the Americas, and the Middle East. The artist combines documentary, straight, street, photojournalism, landscape and portrait photography to organically reveal human diversity through trustworthy documents that faithfully represent the reality of an event or a subject. But this is only a base for his visual foundation, as his art consists in capturing images that are able to transmit deep universal human meanings. As a rule, the artist conveys his vision in a complex and versatile manner, as a vast range of themes gravitate around this philosophical thread.
Due to this masterly savoir-faire, viewers are pierced and haunted by extremely keen eyes, subtly guided by highlighted details, and often gently pushed to a powerful, almost physiological, awareness by an abrasive, grained, and thus poignant overall texture. This effect is superb and enlivening, imbuing the photographs with profundity and the constant feeling of je ne sais quoi, urging the viewer to perpetual gazing, awe and reflection. The artist follows Cartier-Bresson’s photographic credo: to become pure spirit and capture the essence and inner look with the intuition of the decisive moment. Yet, for the photographs to tell stories of universal meanings, more is needed. He therefore goes further and deeper, scrutinizing the horizons, and finding his way through them. Immortalizing mixtures of animate and inanimate forms that have powerful abilities of suggestion, he hints at the outline of a spiritual message, while retaining the missing particle within the image.
His photographs provoke a reflective mood in the viewer, yet they obstinately refuse to say the ultimate word. Fond of the Socratic method, the artist sets up a perennial artistic agora between the viewer and the viewed, giving birth to the essential imagery that “stands at the junction of a light which comes from the object and another which comes from the gaze” (Plato).
“From the beginning,” the artist says, “in a continuous effort directed at seeing the unseen in our swirling mass of absent and present objects and subjects, I identified a space somewhere between displayed images and the state of mind of the viewer to be a treasured source of inspiration... Within this space, the image becomes a doorway through which the viewer enters and forms a visual understanding with the photographer.
It is the beginning of a complex relationship, an eternal ménage à trois between the photographer, the subject and the viewer incognito. The anatomy of this relationship is the single most important acceptance factor, that which determines the fate of a photographer’s art.” The eloquence of subtly implying a universal meaning, enhanced by the intrinsic ineffability of leaving space for interpretations and rediscoveries, gives his photographs the power of “inscribing a spiritual place” for which Matisse was craving.
Those who have seen his photographs have everlastingly gotten the precious gift of them all: a deep inner sense of enrichment and reflection. Watching them, we are channeled to the human soul reservoir and compelled to “take the backward step that turns your light inward to illuminate the Self” (Dogen Zenji).
Tel Aviv Polytechnic 1968-72 Diploma of Photographic Studies
London Film School 1972-74 Honors Diploma
UCLA 1988-89 Guest Lecturer, Department of Arts
Born in Transylvania, Roth has led a storied human existence. Fluent in three languages as a child, Roth and his family immigrated by way of Greece to Israel in 1960 when he was just 13 years of age. He subsequently added Hebrew to his repertoire. As a young man, he served in the Israeli military and went on to earn his degree in photography at the Tel Aviv Polytechnic.
At age 25, Roth moved to yet another foreign country whose language he did not speak.This time, he learned English by necessity while studying at the prestigious London Film School where he graduated with honors. In 1974, Roth relocated to the United States, namely Los Angeles, where he built a family and has resided ever since.
Prior to his celebrated unveiling of the Coffeegraph® in 2006, Roth had an illustrious and successful career spanning four decades as a commercial photographer and photojournalist. His elegant photographic work has appeared in many prominent publications including: Vogue Magazine, Harper's Bazaar, Cosmopolitan and Architectural Digest.
Since 2006, Roth uses humanity’s wake up fuel as his pigment to create expressive distortions of form and space depicting paintings of mythological, allegorical, and anthropomorphic subjects.
Century Books, Pasadena CA, June 2018
Art-Space Gallery, Altadena, October 2015
Think Tank Gallery, Los Angeles, December 2013
Jones Coffee Roasters, Pasadena, April 2013.
W Hotel, Los Angeles, November 2012
Sotheby’s International, Rancho Santa Fe, September 2012
Roth Gallery, Pasadena, May 2012
Jerusalem Biennale, Israel, November 2019
MuzeuMM, Los Angeles, June 2018
Bread & Salt, Hebrew Union College LA, April 2018
Jerusalem Biennale, Israel, October 2017
UJA-NY Gallery, New York, September 2017
Think Thank Gallery, LA, August 2017
Open Studios Art Walk, June 2016
Fabrik Art Expo, Los Angeles, January 2016
Open Studios Art Walk, December 2015
Santa Monica Museum, Bergamot Station, SM, December 2015
Gensler, DTLA, October 2015
Jerusalem Biennale, Israel, September 2015
Open Studios Art Walk, June 2015
Think Tank Gallery, Los Angeles, January 2015
Dortort Center for Creativity in the Arts, UCLA, January 2014
Hale Arts, Santa Monica, CA January 2014
Art San Diego, November 2013
EuroPane, Pasadena, August 2013
Art Basel Miami, December 2012