The brilliant color and vivid lines of the work of Avi Ben-Simhon evoke a feeling of joy and happiness. Influenced by his background in graphic printing, his work is exciting and unique in its beauty and mood.
“The inspiration for my work comes from within me,” he explained. “I am not trying to copy nature—I am copying my imagination.” From a young age, art has been a passion for this artist. Born in Fez, Morocco, in 1947, he came to Israel in 1948 where his family immigrated upon the establishment of the Israeli state. At first they lived in a tent camp before moving to Jerusalem. He recalls that as a child he didn’t have any paints or paper to draw on. “The only art materials I could get were charcoal from campfires and newspaper. He credits his late mother, the “art critic,” in encouraging his artistic talents at this early age.
“Ever since I remember, I was always painting,” he says. To Ben-Simhon it came naturally. It was instinctive and almost obsessive. He tells the story of how, as a young man, he woke up one morning and began working on a painting of a train. “It was a very big painting and I said to myself, ‘I’ll just do this and that to it and then I’ll go and eat my breakfast.’ When I came out of my studio it was dark. I had been painting for the better part of nine hours and to me it felt like an hour or two. I was aware of the fact that there are crazy painters. I thought I was crazy too, and I closed down my studio and didn’t go back to it for something like ten years.”
When he came of age, Ben-Simhon served in the Israeli army and later joined a group of friends to establish Kibbutz Eyal. Along with its religious significance in his life, Israel was also the location of Ben-Simhon’s extensive art education. In 1986, he studied at the acclaimed Avni Art Institute, followed by three years of immersion into the world of contemporary art at the acclaimed Kallisher Institute. Ben-Simhon soon became fascinated by the Fauvist and Cubist painters of the 19th Century, and the influence of this style is readily apparent in his paintings.
The Fauves were inspired by the later impressionist works of Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh, artists who pushed the boundaries with their bold color choices and simplified design. Such design elements are a hallmark of Ben-Simhon’s paintings that also exhibit the intense colors characteristic of the Fauves, whose aim was to express emotion through color choice. As with Cubist works, a feature of this Israeli artist is to break up objects, analyze them, and re-assemble them in an abstract form, thereby depicting them in a greater context. Ben-Simhon views his work as a marriage of beauty and complication dominated by round lines, colorful images and, above all, a feeling of happiness.
In simple terms, he likens his style to that of a children’s coloring book where images with strong black lines are brightly filled with color. Playful and imaginative, his paintings seem to emanate from another world. The interplay of colors, the extreme textures and joyful subjects are a wonder to behold. His work comes from the recesses of an exuberant mind—the imagination of a powerful and fun artist.
Today, Avi Ben-Simhon has become a highly collectible painter whose works can be found in private and corporate collections around the world, and in art galleries throughout Israel, France, Canada and the United States.