Mira-one and Mira-two (Mira Hermoni-Levine paintings)

Mira-One and Mira-Two. Chicago Jewish News, May 9, 1997

Mira-One and Mira-Two. Chicago Jewish News, May 9, 1997

Chicago Jewish News, May 9, 1997

Haunting images fill canvases of Israeli artist
“Haunting” is how critics describe Mira Hermoni-Levine’s paintings. The Israeli-born artist’s little girls on spindly legs seem lost in the darkened rooms where they stand. Dressed in white dresses with white bows in their hair, the girls do not smile. They stand with their arms behind their backs, their hands hidden.

“Who is the girl who keeps appearing in the paintings?” an Israeli critic asked Hermoni-Levine. “Mira one and Mira-two,” she said. “Mira-one was killed in the Holocaust with her brother, Osia. Her father, who was also my father, tried to resurrect his life in Israel and gave life to me. Mire-two.”

Born in 1948, Hennoni-Lcvine’s life, in many ways, has paralleled that of the state of Israel. Her mother also lost family in the Holocaust. Her father died when she was young.

She studied biochemistry and worked in research. She started painting more than two decades ago, shortly after her first husband – a captain – was killed during Israel’s Yom Kippur War. Her only son was born nine days later.

The painting began as a way to cope with the sense of loss. She gave up her job teaching at an Israeli university to work full-time as a painter. Working with an palette knife instead of a brush, Hermoni-Levine seems to cut into the past – hers, Israel’s, the Jewish people’s. She favors monochromatic earth tones. Even when she uses blues and reds, they are muted. Her pictures have been described as “mystical” and “scaring,” “melancholic,” yet they also resonate with warmth and light.

Hermoni-Levine does not title her pictures. Critics see hopefulness and hesitation in her figures; isolation and determination.

Hermoni-Levine’s work can be seen at the Gusfield Glimer Galleries in Northbrook Court.