June 1-20, 2017

Co-curated by Loretta Harms & Caio Twombly


Ophrah Shemesh’s pictures turn to a tortured romanticism, bringing representation as psychologically close as possible to an affirmation of the human body’s supremacy. The bodies claimed, proclaimed in Shemesh’s canvases are neither mediated by photography, lifted from the media, nor appropriated from the history of art; nor are they mere phantasms projected by the imaginary, archetypal bodies, as it were, that dissolve in a long stream of successive formal types.....they are portrait-bodies....not to recount, however, fragments of experience – tranches de vie chronicling daily events – but to literally embody an idea of existence.
Mario Diacono, Archetypes and Historicity, 2012

Ophrah Shemesh’s paintings are gorgeous and troubling: brilliant visual meditations on the profundity of appearances and the violence they may engender. Here we find, at least on the surface, a critique of the gaze, but one that, like all great painting, is also complicit in its seductions.  The eye lingers first on what seem to be flat, graphic forms and fields of color. But then, through the traces of the painter’s brush, one is taken by the hand and drawn inward, past the startled faces, to a more hidden place where seeing and touching are one.

Louis Sass, author of Madness and Modernism
Loretta Harms is pleased to present an exhibition of recent paintings by Ophrah Shemesh.

Eighteen works in tempera on board trace the journey of a girl child on the brink of womanhood, expressing her feelings of abundance and surrender. The naked nature of the egg tempera medium echoes the emotions of the girl and evokes a brutal response to her stories.  Its unforgiving method of application resembles the unforgiving world she faces. The feeling that remains after story and memory have vanished thrust the observer into a shared intimacy. 

Five large scale works in oil are the stage for a battle between remembering and forgetting.  Shadows of events and repetitions play out across the canvasses through gazes outward, inward, and somewhere in between.  Their truth cannot be known and time does not make them less.  Even when the light comes on, the shadows remain. 

A fully illustrated catalogue with commentary by Stanley Crouch accompanies the exhibition.   

Ophrah Shemesh was born in Israel and has resided in New York City since 1979. She studied at The Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem and the New York Studio School, and was research assistant to art historian, Meyer Schapiro. Shemesh’s solo exhibitions include, Galleria Philippe Daverio (Milan, 1992), Galleria S.A.L.E.S (Rome,1995), Mario Diacono (Boston 1995), Guy McIntyre (New York, 1997), Baumgartner (New York, 2002), Stephen Wirtz (San Francisco, 2003), Freight & Volume (New York, 2008).

Image: Chill Pursued, 2017, oil on linen, 80 x 128 inches 
Photo by Adam Reich.  All images are subject to copyright. Approval must be granted prior to reproduction.

Join the conversation on Instagram @Ophrah_Shemesh.

To view the work by appointment please contact Loretta Harms at 212-965-4650,

Purchase the Boundless catalogue, Shemeshcatalogue