Calman Shemi, an innovative artist and sculptor was brought up in Argentina and moved to Israel as a young man. He patented the ‘soft painting’ technique and is constantly evolving and developing his techniques. He lives and works in Jerusalem.
Calman Shemi was born in 1939 in Argentina and began studying sculpture and pottery at the age of thirteen. At the School of Sculpture and Ceramics in Mendoza, Shemi was fortunate to have the well-known Argentinian sculptor Libero Badii as his mentor. Shemi moved to Israel in 1961 and settled on Kibbutz Carmia where he lived as an active member of the kibbutz for twenty years. Apart from working in agriculture, Shemi produced sculptures in wood and clay as well as polyester and fiber-glass. Shemi’s style was at first influenced by Rudi Lehmann, a founder of the Canaanism school, which aimed to artists to the land and the early civilizations in the area. He later developed his own original techniques and style producing unique work which is full of optimism and energy.
Because Shemi wasn’t conventionally trained in drawing and painting he has been able to create and develop several different techniques to enable him to create pieces that straddle the boundaries between painting and sculpture.
 Soft Painting
In the late 70’s and early 80’s Shemi began developing a new technique which he called ‘soft painting’. This technique was so original that he was able to take out a patent for it. He combines layers of various fabrics and using a special industrial sewing machine, with 9,000 thread-less needles, he meshes them together onto a background to create individual soft textile pictures.
 Lacquer Painting
On a visit to the Far East in 1997, Shemi came across the traditional lacquer technique used for thousands of years to decorate wooden pieces. On returning to Israel, Shemi experimented with the method until he was able to create lacquered work using modern techniques and materials. He uses both wood and metal for these create these pieces. He first paints gilded gold or silver leaf designs on the piece and then using car paint as a glaze Shemi builds up the layers. When it is dry the piece is ready to be spray painted several times with a car lacquer. This technique produces a very shiny, hard, modern finish to the art work.
 Window Paintings
Acknowledging that everyone likes to look through windows, Shemi has created pictures that resemble a view through a window. He first creates a painting known as ‘shadow box’ where the work is contained inside a wooden box. Shemi then puts a handmade lacquered frame around the box, giving the illusion of looking through a real window.
Since 1991 Shemi was commissioned by several big companies to create large public sculptures and paintings for their businesses. These companies include the Florida based Carnival Cruise-Liners who asked Shemi to make prints and paintings for cabins for three of their ships, as well as bronze sculptures for the public areas. Shemi’s sculptures decorate the head office of the Bank HaPoalim in Israel, as well as several of their head offices in other countries.
On his historic visit to Israel Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was presented with one of Calman Shemi’s works, and the former French President, Mitterrand, was also given one of Shemi’s art pieces.
Calman Shemi now lives and works in Jerusalem and he is currently creating sculptures out of laser cut steel. He regularly has one-man shows in the United States and Israel amongst other countries. Shemi’s work can be seen in public spaces as well as online and in permanent collections around the world.