It is said that Jackson Pollock was at times frustrated with the difficulty of presenting fresh and inspired imagery. Picasso seemed to have been everywhere and attempted virtually everything (at least that is what seemed to confront Pollock at every turn). The plight of the painter today is also one of endless searching which, for many, leads to a restating of predictable themes or uninspired ideas.

The paintings of Lorraine Shemesh represent an exciting departure from the commonplace. These are brilliantly conceived and executed works that present the human form in water with its ability to magnify and bend light. Shemesh’s swimmers offer a totally fresh perspective on the athletic figure. Just as George Bellows saw in the boxing ring the idealized figure in motion in an environment which heightened Bellow’s observational powers, Shemesh’s figures in water offer so much to take in. Once satisfied with her ability to capture the subject convincingly, our eyes feast upon her interplay of line, shape, and color. Perhaps no one since the neo-impressionists of the late Nineteenth Century have dealt with color minutiae as has Lorraine Shemesh. The paintings also overwhelm us with their ability to show the power of reflected and refracted sunlight on the human form. Those who have criticized painting as being too static need to view these works. It’s hard to imagine that digital technology could present this subject with more energy. The visual dynamics happening on these canvases are a triumph.

The paintings of Lorraine Shemesh are a perfect fit for The Butler Insititue of American Art. The Butler’s collection has been a celebration of American painting since 1919, and these works demonstrate that painting as an art remains a very vital part of our visual arts culture. Our founder, Joseph G. Butler, wanted the world to recognize that America’s creativity moved beyond engineering and business and into the studios of America’s artists. I think that he would be pleased to see that the paintings of Lorraine Shemesh are indeed inspired in their creativity and level of accomplishment. We are grateful to our good friends at the Allan Stone Gallery for introducing the outstanding work of Lorraine Shemesh to us. We appreciate the generosity of the private collectors who have been so gracious in allowing us to show their paintings in this exhibition. We extend our congratulations to the artist for her remarkabe accomplishment and our gratitude to her for allowing us to share these beautiful paintings with our museum audience. It is a special treat indeed!

Louis A. Zona, Director
The Butler Institute of American Art

Zona, Louis A., “Introduction.”
Museum Catalogue, Butler Institute of American Art. (February 26, 2006): 3.