‘Red dress’ girl a secret no longer

Chicago Sun-Times
By Hedy Weiss Theater Critic Nov 13, 2009


My first encounter with Israeli artist Mira Hermoni-Levine was several years ago when I became intrigued by the painting of a young girl on the cover of a theater playbill here. Was the girl a real child or a doll? She certainly looked European, and was both haunting and haunted. And though still small, she made a powerful impression.

The artist, I dis
covered, was rep
resented in 
Chicago by the
Josef Glimer 
Gallery. 207 W.
 Superior, where 
this weekend an 
exhibition of her 
work, titted
 “Layers,” will open
 and continue through Dec. 31. Hermoni-Levine’s story is 
complex. She was born in Israel and trained as a biochemist, but only turned to painting in 1974, shortly after her first husband, Oded Hermoni, was killed on the opening day of the Yom Kippur War. She was 25 at the time, and nine days later gave birth to their son.

The girl in the paintings has even deeper roots. Hermoni-Levine’s father was a Holocaust survivor whose two young children, a girl and boy, were killed in the calamity. Mira was “the replacement child,” born with his post-war wife.

“Mira-two,” as the artist calls herself, was raised in an atmosphere of silence about the past, and with all the trappings of a proper Old World upbringing. This made her something of an outsider, for she was growing up amid the newly created Israeli “Sabra” society. The artist’s richly textured works on canvas, created solely with the use of a palette knife, conjure that sense of alienation, melding the lost world of “Mira-one” with her own childhood as “Mira-two.” They are pure theater. And remarkable art.