Ra’anan Levy was born in Jerusalem in 1954 to first-generation émigré Syrian-Jewish parents. He studied art in Florence, and Arabic and history at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University. In 1982, Levy was awarded a two-year residency at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam, and in 1987 received an artist’s grant from the Fondation de France. He now lives and works in Paris, where a major retrospective of his work was held at the Musée Maillol in 2007.
Yellow Light is one of a series of works begun in 2003 exploring interiors, typically unpeopled domestic spaces. As in his earlier series of stainless steel sinks (1976), sewer drains (1998 ̶ 2004), and common objects (1994), Levy foregrounds a space which more usually forms the background to human experience. The lead-white, Naples-yellow and vermillion palette, predominantly used to depict the human body, here highlights the lack of a human presence, evoking nostalgia for the lost home that is emblematic of the wider émigré experience. This is the first Levy work to enter a UK museum collection.