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Exploring Steve Behar's Narrative Paintings: A Fusion of Ambiguity and Midcentury Media

25 May - 2023
by Vincent Moleveld


Welcome to Online Gallery, where we showcase the works of talented artists who bring their unique perspectives to the world of art. In this blog article, we delve into the captivating artistic realm of Steve Behar, a narrative painter based in San Diego, California. Behar's intriguing paintings have been displayed in prestigious venues such as the San Diego Museum of Art and the Antrum Gallery in Los Angeles. Join us as we explore the influences, techniques, and themes that define Steve Behar's captivating body of work.

The Intersection of Psychology and Art:

Before embarking on his artistic journey, Steve Behar pursued a career in psychology, specializing in testing. This background in psychology has had a profound impact on his artistic style and subject matter. Behar draws inspiration from the Thematic Apperception Test, a psychological tool that uses intentionally ambiguous images to prompt individuals to construct narratives. He takes this idea of intentional ambiguity and translates it into his artwork, inviting viewers to interpret the narratives depicted in his paintings.


Capturing the Disparity of Midcentury Media:

In addition to his fascination with psychological testing, Steve Behar finds inspiration in midcentury media, including advertising, television, and film. This era presented an idealized vision of life, promising excitement and fulfillment that often fell short of reality. Behar's artwork aims to capture the gap between these expectations and the actual experiences of individuals. By merging digital collages of borrowed media with traditional painting techniques, he creates visual narratives that reflect the tension between idealized dreams and the complexities of everyday life.


The Creative Process:

Steve Behar's artistic process involves carefully constructing digital collages using fragments of midcentury media, such as advertisements, television stills, and film clips. These collages serve as the foundation for his paintings. Behar then paints over the collages, adding his artistic interpretation and blurring the boundaries between reality and fiction. Through this technique, he creates compelling compositions that evoke a sense of intrigue, inviting viewers to explore the narrative within each piece.


Themes and Interpretations:

Behar's artwork explores themes of aspiration, disillusionment, and the human desire for fulfillment. By merging elements of midcentury media with ambiguous narratives, he highlights the disparity between the idealized imagery of the past and the realities of the present. Each painting becomes a visual story, offering viewers the opportunity to engage in their own interpretations and reflections. The intentionally open-ended nature of Behar's work sparks curiosity and invites viewers to actively participate in the artistic experience.


Education and Influences:

Steve Behar's artistic journey was shaped by his education and the mentors who guided him along the way. He studied painting under the guidance of Michael Wheelden in San Diego and had the privilege of learning from Patricia Patterson and Manny Farber at the University of California, San Diego. Their mentorship and expertise have played a vital role in the development of his artistic approach, helping him expand his creative horizons and refine his techniques.



Steve Behar's narrative paintings offer viewers a captivating blend of psychological intrigue and midcentury nostalgia. Through the use of intentional ambiguity and digital collages, Behar invites us to explore the disparity between idealized visions and the complexities of real life. His artwork sparks contemplation and reflection, provoking us to question the narratives we construct and the aspirations we hold dear. As we immerse ourselves in Behar's captivating compositions, we are reminded of the power of art to provoke emotions and ignite meaningful conversations.