A painter who sees the world differently

03:19, Mar 21 2013
Yaniv Janson
Yaniv Janson's latest works reflect beehives and water.

He can be disarmingly frank, he doesn't like to show his teeth when he smiles, he loves his computer and is a dab hand at bowling.

And at just 20 years old, Yaniv Janson is also an established artist with a host of awards, who has exhibited in more than 40 galleries and museums here and abroad, and is the youngest guest artist to have ever been invited to the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts.

And he has autism.

To Janson it is just a word he hears in passing and while he knows he is different from everyone else, he focuses only on his painting.

Janson's art is structured yet emotive and vibrant, and while they could easily be taken at face value as little more than landscapes, they carry a message.

A majority of his latest works feature water and beehives, themes that reflect his passion for the environment in global warming, and more recently in bee conservation.

''I also like how the paint moves around - water moves along the canvas and changes, and the colours change,'' he says.

He sees the world differently and says tries to show the rest of us what we are missing, without all the pretence and snobbery that can often accompany art.

His favourite painting depicts a house on a hill, overlooking the ocean, with a path zigzagging up to an archway. The reason it is his favourite is written in the title: ''I could live there''.

It is one of the pieces he will take to exhibit and sell, along with the two books he has had published, in a special exhibition next week.

The Crowded Heads Exhibition in Hamilton features work by artists who, like Janson, are all living with mental illness of some form or another.

But if there is one thing to be learned from this one-of-a-kind artist, it's that labels don't matter in art.

With everything from paintings to sculpture and carving, Crowded Heads will be at Hamilton's Auteur House on Victoria Street from Wednesday March 27 until the end of April.