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 all over the world.
Though sculpture dominated his early years as an artist, Shemi developed the idea of the “soft painting” medium in 1977 while living on the Kibbutz Carmia. 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 1991, Shemi was invited to create art works for Carnival Cruise Liners in Miami, Florida, including painting of large dimensions for the public spaces, paintings for the cabins and suites. He also constructed sculptures made of bronze for the various ships’ decks.
Between 1991 and 2003 Shemi executed art works for eight of Carnival Cruise Liners’ ships. Among them are the “Sensation,” “Elation,” “Paradise,” “Triumph,” “Conquest,” “Legend,” “Glory” and “Miracle.” Today he is working on creations for Carnival’s newest ship, the “Valor.”
In 2002 Calman Shemi was commissioned to create monumental works for Hapoalim Bank’s headquarters in Tel-Aviv. In addition, Shemi has created sculptures and paintings for Hapoalim Bank’s head branches in Geneva, London, Paris and Mexico City.
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.
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.
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.