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Rebecca Dayan is an inspiring woman and her self-portraits are so beautiful. Actively pursuing creative endeavors in the realms of fashion, film and art, Dayan announces her first solo gallery show in NYC at the Catherine Ahnell Gallery, opening September 8th.

The artist, actress and model is a native of the South of France, who relocated to Paris at the age of 18 to pursue creative endeavors. As she began her work as a model, photographers such as Karl Lagerfeld and Peter Lindbergh took an immediate liking to the coquettish beauty and her classing French-girl features. Dayan quickly decided to broaden her already flourishing influence in the fashion industry and struck up a career as a designer, taking on an assistant role under Gabrielle Greiss at Sonia Rykiel. She continued to create a name and presence for herself in the city of lights until 2009, when she decided to relocate again, this time to New York City, where she would pursue a passion for acting. Her acting career has grown rapidly since that year, giving Dayan an impressive collection of features that most recently includes a lead role in the much-acclaimed indie film H., which made its world premiere at this year’s Venice Film Festival. A modern-day Renaissance woman, Dayan consistently feeds her urge to dabble in many different fields. Despite this, she has one specific passion that remains consistent and unwavering throughout all of her other endeavors: painting.

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Painting is a talent that Dayan has been quietly pursuing throughout her years of loudly displaying her on-screen and on-the-page abilities. Her watercolor portraits have been published in the likes of L’Officiel Hommes and UNEMPLOYED magazine.

Dayan found unexpected inspiration for her upcoming debut solo exhibition while researching for a role in a film that she will be taking on in the fall of 2015. In the film, entitled “NOVITIATE,” Dayan is set to play a young nun, a role that required much research to understand. Dayan spent time studying stories in books suggested by the director that were either written by nuns or included interviews with nuns. It was during this time spent researching that she found her inspiration. Dayan, a non-religious woman, found intrigue in the way that these nuns expressed their love for God. She found that it ironically paralleled the way a young woman might speak about her first love. 

This intrigue led Dayan to further explore the parallels that can be found between passions of religion and passions of eroticism, giving her the idea for the series of watercolor portraits she will produce for her solo exhibition. 

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“I became fascinated by religious iconography depicting religious ecstasy and the inherent human need to find meaning and solace in altered states — communing with a higher power through religion, sex, drugs, money, etc.” says Dayan. “There is an inherent need in all of us to imbue ideas, symbols, and people with meaning in order to fight the inevitable. Most of the time we distract ourselves to not face the truth, until we reach moments of freedom and bliss. It is in these small fleeting moments that I am interested.” 

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Dayan, who is fascinated by depictions of the human figure, specifically in heightened states of sensual pleasure, cites artists Egon Schiele, Caravaggio, William Blake, Henry Darger, Marlene Dumas, Francesco Clemente and Matisse as favorite artists that have provided inspiration for her upcoming debut exhibition.  

“As far as I can remember I have always drawn or painted people,” says Dayan. “I particularly like studying details; the eyes, a mouth, imperfections of the skin. I am always looking to convey an emotion more than exactitude. Light is an essential part of my work; there is always a contrast between blank space, fragile lines and rich colors.”

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Dayan plans to spend the first week of her residency photographing an array of subjects imitating classic religious works of art in an erotic or sexual manner. These photographs will then be the basis for the series of large-scale watercolor paintings Dayan will debut on September 8th with the opening of her exhibition at Catherine Ahnell Gallery in New York City starting September 8th, 2015. 

“I work from a picture because I am intrigued by the juxtaposition of the time spent painting an expression that could be missed in the blink of an eye,” Dayan said about the unique process she intends to use.

While this is how she intends to begin her residency, Dayan sees potential in the idea that this could inspire her in new ways and open her up to new ideas of how to express the parallel between religion and eroticism that has so inspired her.

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