Galya Pillin Tarmu is an artist whose paintings manifest an extensiveness use of color, energy and emotion. While viewing her imagery you are immediately swept up in the complex structure of the picture plane. This is especially true of her figurative subjects; it is as though they are communicating their immediate feelings; and the observer is interacting with the painting. It can be disconcerting and stimulating at the same time, depending on the subject matter. Becoming one with the picture is what very few artists can ever hope to achieve for their audience.
At 83, she is as vibrant as ever; painting is her life and she cherishes every moment. Ms. Tarmu still paints almost every day, not wanting to be interrupted she locks herself into her studio and takes the phone off the hook. Although a contemporary, her expressive style of painting seems to have a connection to an earlier period.
Her expressionist voice is analogous to the German movement that took place at the turn of the century. Die Brücke (The Bridge) was a small group of painters (Founding members were Fritz Bleyl, Erich Heckel, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. Later members were Emil Nolde, Max Pechstein and Otto Mueller) that transformed the world of painting. Die Brücke is sometimes compared to the Fauves. Both movements shared interests in primitivist art. Both shared an interest in the expressing of extreme emotion through high-keyed color that was very often non-naturalistic. Both movements employed a drawing technique that was crude, and both groups shared an antipathy to complete abstraction.
Born to a cultural heritage of suffering, I was warned at an early age that I should be an Artist (with a capital A) only if I absolutely must, only if there was no other alternative for me. Art was a commitment, a calling, a vocation in the religious sense. I had a longing to make something intensely, even painfully beautiful. So I took up the challenge with a great deal of excitement, an excitement which has not waned over the years.
The technical aspects of learning my art/craft were not where the suffering lay, since I was born with talent. And there was the whole incredible, fabulous world of art at my fingertips, since I grew up at the Art Institute of Chicago and was fortunate enough to have an art history teacher who presents the history of art not only in its awesome beauty, but also with every kind of social meaning. I still remember her vividly - her name was Kathleen Blackshear.
Throughout years of painting, drawing and printmaking, I have become very aware that what I struggle with are the contradictions: the fleeting opposed to the materially permanent, the animal and the transcendent, the lean and the fat, the mean and the generous, the decorative versus the austere and the erotic opposed to the modest.
Life is full of these contradictions, which I try to resolve in my painting. What it means
to be poor and rich at the same time, simultaneously loving and hating, being both tired
and alert, fearful and courageous - resolving these contradictions is where the struggling
and suffering come in. But then, if I do manage to resolve some of these contradictions,
there is the reward of great enjoyment and empowerment.
A great many painters have come to my assistance: Giotto, Vermeer, Velasquez, Turner,
Goya, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Manet, Whistler, Sargent, Chase, Munch, early Ensor,
Schiele, Klimt, Corot and - in my own time - Fritz Scholder, Elmer Bischoff and Alice
Neel. These are painters who, like me, wrestled with art's complexities and contradictions.
Through it all I have developed my own voice, my own poetry.
Bachelor of Fine Arts, Institute of Fine Arts of Chicago, Chicago IL 1947
University of Chicago, Chicago IL 1943-47
SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS
1999 Museum of Ein Harod, Ein Harod, Israel
1993 Museum of Israeli Art, Ramat Gan, Israel
1986 Gordon Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel
1980 Artspace, Los Angeles CA
1979 Lois Ziff Brooks Residence, Los Angeles CA
1977 Riva Yares Gallery, Los Angeles CA
1975 Bryant Cunningham Gallery, Venice CA
1968 Gordon Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel
1960 Bertha Lewison Gallery, Los Angeles CA
1953 Jerusalem Artists House, Jerusalem, Israel
1947 American Contemporary Gallery, Hollywood CA
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
2005 Ladies with Figures, Jan Baum Gallery, Los Angeles CA
1983 San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego CA
1981 Westside Jewish Community Center, Los Angeles CA
1976 Ten Women Artists, Richard Mann Gallery, Los Angeles CA
1975 Ten Together, Brand Library and Art Center, Glendale CA
1966 Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach CA
1957 Haifa Municipality Museum, Haifa, Israel
1955 Ein Hod Museum, Ein Hod, Israel
1955 Dizenghoff Museum, Tel Aviv, Israel
1950 Women Painters, Landau Gallery, Los Angeles CA
1950 Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles CA
1949 San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco CA
1947 American Contemporary Gallery, Los Angeles CA
1947 Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago IL
Westside Jewish Community Center, Exhibition Award, Los Angeles CA, 1976
Dr. Robert Buffum Women Painters Award, Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach CA, 1966
Malach Award, Artists' Gallery, Ein Hod, Israel, 1957
William L. Gerstle Prize, San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco CA, 1949
First Place, American Contemporary Art Gallery, Hollywood CA, 1948
Frank Armstrong Award, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago IL, 1947
Museum of Israel, Jerusalem, Israel
Jewish Museum, New York, New York
Haifa Municipality, Haifa, Israel
1985 to 1990, Drawing Instructor, Workshop for Architecture and Design, Tel Aviv Israel
"Gallery: Gaya Pillin Tarmu," by A.A., Westways, December 1980
"Settling Scores," by Elaine Attias, Westways, May 1978
"On Music," by Henri Temianka, Westways, November 1977
"The More Things Change," by Leland Frederick Cooley, Westways, July 1975
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