Calman Shemi Biography

Calman Shemi's artwork is a celebration of color, expression, and innovation. The founder of the soft painting technique embraces the use of transparency and layering in his vibrant and abstract original lithographs, tapestries, sculptures and paintings.

Calman Shemi

Calman Shemi, sculptor and painter, was born in Argentina in 1939. A graduate of the School of Sculpture and Ceramics in Mendoza, he was a student of the Italian-Argentinean sculptor, Libero Badii, and the German-Israeli sculptor, Rudi Lehman.

In 1961 Shemi settled in Israel and joined Kibbutz Carmia of which he was a member for twenty years. There he worked in agriculture and also as a sculptor working with wood and clay. Several large-scale projects made of fiberglass and polyester are situated in various public buildings.

Though sculpture dominated his early years as an artist, Shemi developed the idea of the “soft painting” medium while living on the Kibbutz Carmia in 1977. Beginning with a color drawing done to scale, Shemi layers irregularly shaped pieces of variously textured and colored fabrics. Using a thread less 9000-needle sewing machine, the fabrics are meshed to one another and to the background, resulting in vibrant compositions infused with exuberant color and explosive movement.

In addition to his “soft paintings,” Calman Shemi has also created over 1200 prints and paintings for cabins and suites on board the “Sensation,” one of the Carnival Cruise Liners. His giant paintings also grace the walls of many public places aboard the ship as well as paintings and sculptures for another three liners from Carnival Cruise Lines; the “Elation,” which launched at the end of 1997, the “Paradise, which was launched in 1998, and the “Triumph,” which is still being built.

As many artists strive to challenge themselves with new artistic mediums, Calman Shemi has done just that by developing two unique techniques of painting; his “lacquer paintings” and “window paintings.

Lacquer Paintings

These special pieces are created using vibrant colors and are painted on a wood or metal panel that has been gilded with gold and /or silver leaf. After the paint has thoroughly dried, many layers of lacquer are applied to the surface giving it a glowing effect. Between each layer of lacquer the piece is hand polished to give the surface its very shiny look.

Window Paintings

This creative style of painting resembles an imaginative “shadow box” painting. Shemi first creates a painting inside a wooden box. After the painting is completed, he then attaches a hand made wooden frame to the box. This unusual technique creates an illusion of looking through a window to a landscape or room. The frame is then gilded with gold and /or silver leaf and is layered with many coats of lacquer. This special technique creates the contrast between the “outside level” and the painting within the deeper level.

Calman Shemi’s “lacquer” and “window” paintings are reminiscent of ancient techniques used to create art in Japan and China centuries ago. During the last eighteen years Shemi has held more than seventy one-man shows in the USA, Japan, Germany, Spain, Belgium and Israel. Today Shemi’s works can be seen in many public and private collections around the world.