George Chemeche, Iraqi/American (1934 - )      

George Chemeche

George Chemeche was born in 1934 and studied at the Avni Art School in Jel Aviv and the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. The style with which he is intimately associated, pattern painting, is non-minimalist, sensuous, romantic, rational and decorative. Its methods, thematic material and referents range across cultural and class lines.

The style is two-dimensional, non-hierarchical, allover and acentric. Because most viewers respond with delight to patterning, it runs counter to the modernist taboo against a decorative quality in art. Though pattern painting's roots are in modern art, it contradicts some of its basic tenets as it attempts to assimilate aspects of Western and non-Western culture not previously accepted into the realm of high art.

Though most people intuitively recognize patterning, it is difficult to define. The most serviceable definition is that pattern is the systematic repetition of a motif or motifs used to cover a surface uniformly. The spaces between motifs are either other motifs or are an integral part of the repeat. Whatever f9rm the painting takes, its flat and pictorial space is at a minimum.

What makes patterning in pattern painting different from patterning in the "functional" arts-weaving, mosaics and so on, and especially in the art of non-Western cultures-is partly the use of pigment on canvas, but also, and of greater importance, intention and context. The intention is to make a high-art statement within a contemporary context by referring to, and using what to many still remains within the world of non-art.

Pattern painting, unlike abstractionism, has structure. It also has content as it refers to patterns in the real world. Usually, patterning intentionally acknowledges the decorative function of art, reconciling both the decorative and the meaningful.

George's work hangs in the lobby of the Hotel Chelsea where many have admired it for years. Last year, we had the pleasure of hearing George read his poems of life and love in the Chelsea at the Bowery Poetry Club. Like many Chelsea residents, George was a long time member of McBurney Y until they moved to 14th St. At left, George's response to their move. Living in the Hotel Chelsea since 1972 has taught George a valuable lesson: never ask Women and dogs about their age.

Selected Biography

1934 Born in Basra, Iraq
1947 Fled Iraq with his family
1947-49 Lives and attends school in Tehran
1949 Immigrates to Israel
1956-59 Studies art in Avni Art School, Tel-Aviv
1959 Gets American-Israeli Culture Foundation
grant to study art in Paris
1959-1962 Studies at Ecole Supérieure des Beaux Arts, Paris
1961- Gets two years grant from Lady Francis Fergusson, Scotland
1962 Gets one year grant from Alex de Rothschild, Paris
First man show at Gallery Transposition, Paris
1965-72 Exhibits his work in numerous art galleries in
Israel including one man show at Haifa Museum
1972 Travels to New York, checks in the Hotel Chelsea
1977-- First one-man show in USA at Louis K. Meisel
Gallery, New York, followed by other shows
around the country and Europe.
1995 Travels to Iceland to publish the Aya Series book.
Text by Donald Kuspit; Art Resourses & Technologies, New York, NY
2002 Publishes, Ibejis: “The Cult of Yoruba Twins”
5 Continents Edition, Milan, Italy
2003 Curates a show at Museum of African Art, NYC
Ibejis: The Doubly Blessed Twins
2005 Reads his poems at the Bowery Poetry Club, New York
2010 Lectures about Ibeji art and cult at Iowa University
2011 Lectures about Ibeji Art and cult at Neuberger Museum
2011 Publishes, The Horse Rider in African Art” ACC, UK

  • 1978
    • Goldman Art Gallery, Haifa, Israel
  • 1977
    • Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York
    • Alexandra Monett Gallery, Brussels
  • 1977
    • Givon Art GaJIery, Tel Aviv
  • 1974
    • South Houston Gallery, New York
    • Ray Landis Gallery, East Brunswick, New Jersey
  • 1973
    • Gala Gallery, Key Biscayne, Florida
    • Art Asia Gallery, Cambridge, Mass.
    • Bertha Urdang Gallery, New York
  • 1972
    • Selected Artists Gallery, New York
    • Mabat Art Gallery, Tel Aviv
  • 1971
    • Goldman Art Gallery, Haifa, Israel
  • 1970
    • Modern Art Gallery, Old Jaffa
  • 1969
    • Dugith Art Gallery, Tel Aviv
  • 1968
    • Dugith Art Gallery, Te Aviv
  • 1967
    • Hadassa "K" Klachkin Art Gallery, Tel Aviv
  • 1966
    • Rina Art Gallery, Jerusalem The Museum of Modern Art, Haifa
  • 1965
    • Chemerinsky Art Gallery, Tel Aviv
  • 1963
    • Galerie Transposition, Paris Collective Exhibitions
  • 1978
    • Gordon Gallery, Tel Aviv, "Six Artists"
    • Biv Gallery, New York, "Chelsea Artists"
    • Makler Gallery, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • 1978
    • "FJ.A.C.," Petit Palais Paris Galerie Naire, Paris
  • 1977
    • Weintraub Gallery, New York, Print Show
  • 1971
    • OHana Gallery, London
    • "Six Artists", Modern Art Gallery, Old Jaffa
  • 1969
    • The Autumn Exhibition, Tel Aviv Museum
  • 1965
    • "Young Artists", TeJ Aviv Museum
  • 1963
    • Salon de La Jeune Peinture, Musee d'art Moderne, Paris

    Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
    The Denver Art Museum, Denver, Colorado
    Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Richmond, Virginia
    Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York
    The Jewish Museum, New York, NY
    Grey Art Gallery, NYU, New York, NY
    Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, Alabama
    Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel
    The Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami
    Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca
    Newark Museum, Newark, New Jersey
    The William Benton Museum of Art, University of Connecticut, Storrs
    Montgomery Museum of Art, Montgomery, Alabama
    Tel Aviv Museum, Israel
    Haifa Museum, Israel
    The Brooklyn Museum, New York

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