Layers at Joseph Glimer Gallery

Chicago Art Magazine, Nov 26, 2009
by Martha Sarno

Dreariness silences the room with the deep browns consuming white walls. Airy atmosphere and graceful gallery assistant juxtapose themselves next to the chilling material mounted. Surprisingly still, decidedly dark, definitively desolate portraits stand among dispersed domestic scenes of tables and chairs, all the work of Mira Hermoni-Levine.

Unconventionally heavy and impressively hushed, a set of painted girls individually locked in their canvases. They each peer each other, nearly mirroring one another. A fragile girl of only six years to the next, lost in her secrets and thoughts of angst, summarized by each discomforting stance.

Mira Hermoni-Levine

The Girl with Bows (2008) stands isolated, confrontationally careful. She prompts my questions of the inner workings of her mind. What does she listen to? What is she waiting for? I patiently anticipate answers, but only receive silence, solely muted innocence and loneness. Her breathtaking vulnerability accentuated by the overwhelming canvas of browns, grays, and blacks. The silence of the room significantly contrasts surprised looks of the girl. Rigid and immobile, confined in isolation, her darkened ebony eyes, faintly blurred mauve mouth further disables her ability to express her emotions.

Nostalgic bows illustrate carried burdens in tow. Mira Hermoni-Levine intimately shares in her own words, that the girl reflects a “double identity” of herself. “Mira-one” and “Mira-two…Mira-one was killed in the holocaust…Mira-two was the replacement child” ready to begin new life in Israel. With most of her family brutally murdered in the Holocaust, she was left uncover answers.

Feeling “decorated” with bows to be normal, the paint will express, wholesome and conventional dress. All this time, concealing her Diaspora heritage, the bows were among the difficult obstacles in her search for explanations.

The converted chemist gone artist abandons her exactness and precision in the laboratory, using only palette and oils as way to convert emotions into explanatory notions. Glimer’s gallery suggests that her “lifetime of emotions…cried for a creative outlet…too powerful for science, too volatile for the laboratory.”  Though her paintings are unrefined and slightly clouded, they parallel deeply and truthfully to her own life. Her tried soul reflects the worn paint found on her paintings. Uncovering layers upon layers of darkened oils, with her palette knife as her honest emotive communicator, she illustrates her smeared tears of loss.

The unquestionable silence to compress the fighting violence throughout her time, haunted by memories of her family in war, she honors death, while also coddling life. Both reflective and apprehensive, she removes layers of her pessimistic past and offers an optimistic outlook of a fulfilled future. Mira Hermoni-Levine fascinates and initiates conversation by her simplicity that evokes tremendous emotional complexity. Glimer’s gallery safely houses her intimately uncovered story, as she confesses herself entirely to those who ask.

Layers will be on view through Dec. 31st. Joseph Glimer Gallery is located at 207 W. Superior St.