by Emily Misencik ’14
On Wednesday, Feb. 29, Israeli painter Shira Avidor visited the Trinity community to share her artwork and artistic knowledge. In 1998, Avidor obtained her BFA from the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, where she realized she wanted to focus her artistic talent on painting. Afterwards, Avidor studied at the Jerusalem Studio School with painter Israel Hersheberg for two years, where she decided she wanted to paint still life pieces. Avidor then spent four years exhibiting her work and teaching in Jerusalem. In 2004 she moved to the United States and obtained her MFA in painting from Boston University, College of Fine Arts. While at BU, Avidor was awarded the Dean’s Scholarship and Kahn Career Entry Award.
Avidor has been exhibited locally and internationally at various locations, including the Alpha Gallery and Nielsen Gallery in Boston, Artists’ House in Tel Aviv, Denise Bibro in New York City and is currently exhibited at a two-person show with artist Cathy Lees at Boston University’s Sherman Gallery. Her work is also found in various private and public collections, including the National Museum of Israel, Jerusalem Foundation and Sloane House in Boston. In recent years, Avidor has received the Pollock-Kasher Grant and the Doris S. Roberts Memorial Prize.
Avidor's still life painting, Cut Cake, was an audience favorite
Avidor’s collection of still life paintings illustrates her knowledge of line and color to portray the realism of the various objects and scenes, which are all painted from observation. The majority of her early collection contains abstract combinations and plays on shapes, focusing on washbasins and stained objects. Her early collections also often hints at the presence of a figure through deserted undergarments or fingerprints and mainly contains white, grey, and red hues. Avidor comments on her intrigue by a limited set of color as white is associated with purity and nobility, grey with gloom and lack of presence, and red, which serves as a contrast and is associated with passion and the forbidden. Most of Avidor’s works are also life-size, with dimensions around 20’ x 20’.
During Avidor’s presentation to the audience, she projected images of her various works from different times in her life. Cut Cake, which is part of her early collection before her time at BU, contains an isolated picture of a cut cake. The sharp, solid circle and shapes with subtleties exposes dynamic movement in closed shape. Her Mirror Self-Portrait from the same collection contains a fogged mirror and hints at the appearance of a figure, as mentioned earlier. Avidor used a steam machine to paint the scene from observation, although admits it was hard with the outline of the figure and steam appearing and disappearing while painting. Avidor also states it is interesting to “lose sharp moments.”
While at BU, Avidor painted in a different, illustrational style for two years. Avidor’s new collection was heavier in narrative and mainly contained different girl figures in relation to jewels and cakes. The series, which is also life-size, has a stronger contour and sharper images. This series also marks Avidor’s beginnings of working on panel and her introduction to the use of pattern. The series coincides with her move to the United States, as the paintings depict materialism and large and colorful sights. After graduating, Avidor returns to a similar subject as her initial collection.
Avidor’s latest body of work within the past four to five years is also painted on wood panels. The new paintings consist of colorful, natural interiors. During this time, Avidor comments on her questioning the realism in art, which is reflected in her use of color and pattern. Avidor also paints a series of darker images, filled with bed cots and echoes of objects, which also coincides with her reflection period.
At the end of her presentation, Avidor answered questions from the audience. Avidor stated that she is unable to work from photographs or from her head, drawing from real life observation. When talking about her painting technique, Avidor states that she paints with oil paint in natural daylight in a non-traditional technique starting with a vague outline to focusing in on specific figure shapes. Avidor’s presentation helped inspire and educate the minds of the Trinity community, as her artistic works and talent is one to be admired. Avidor currently lives in West Hartford, where she continues to work on her art.