I’m completely enamored with the work of 88 year old Israeli born artist Hanna Eshel. She was recently profiled on 1st Dibs, and the introspective was wonderful. Eshel was born in Jerusalem in the 1920’s, where she studied art and even served in the armed forces during the 1948 War of Independence. She broke with the traditional expectations of her religious family and moved to Paris in 1952 where she married, had a son and continued to study painting, while showing her art in various galleries over Europe. In the 60’s her art evolved into highly textured suggestive 3d paintings, with burlap and other media pasted in, and slashed about. In that way “I had evolved from a painter to a sculptor, working in three dimensions.” After her marriage dissolved she moved to carerra, italy to work with marble. She expressed frustration at being treated differently as the only woman in the work room, but she didn’t care. “I kept hammering and chiseling, rasping and polishing, loving and working and feeling the marble until it attained its perfect form.” She lived in Carrera for 6 years, honing her craft. After which she moved to New York, and brought with her tens of thousands of pounds of stone that she had craned into her NoHo loft. Despite her early success in the art world abroad, Eshel was disillusioned with the New York Art world, and is now, at 87 having her first gallery show of in New York with Todd Merrill, while A-M Gallery simultaneously presents her burlap paintings.
OK, so now that I summed up her little bio, let’s chat. These pieces are raw and refined, futuristic and ancient, organic and geometric… (didn’t I use this exact phrasing about Celine earlier in the week?) They are really, really elegant. And of course, how inspirational is a story about anyone having their first, well “first,” show at 87 years old? She is delighted with the renewed attention to her work, but obviously, it doesn’t seem like she was waiting around for it! Success comes to those who don’t stop to ask for opinions, right? It’s never too late?