Zohar Fraiman

It takes a lot of Guts to Paint – Interview with Painter Zohar Fraiman

Thomas Casteran Insights, Interview 3 Comments

The Israeli painter Zohar Fraiman, who lives in Germany, developed her skills from Jerusalem to Berlin. Influenced by painters, among them Edgar Degas and Balthus, and the society where she grew up, our conversation with her emphasized the importance of inspiration, focus, intuition and perspectives.

Although Fraiman always felt the need to be a painter, she does not come from a family of artists instead they are more geared towards business and entrepreneurship. The opportunity came along in high-school, where she met her best friend who had been raised in a family of artists. She found role models that inspired her. Making a straight connection to the concept of synchronicity introduced by Jacob Jaworski would be a shortcut, but no doubt this encounter was a milestone for Fraiman.

“It was clear, that my first agenda wasn’t making a decent living […] For me it was painting and drawing, and being an artist. […] I remember saying to her [her friend’s mother] when I was fifteen “All I want to do is to be an artist”, and she said, “Then, just do it!”. […] A year after, I enrolled into a painting and drawing high school in Jerusalem. I instantly just couldn’t stop!”

For several years, Fraiman has been painting around the theme of possession inspired by the jewish folklore tale of the Dybbuk, where a woman is possessed by a malicious spirit on her wedding day. However, she relates her fascination with this theme to the religious society where she grew up. She nurtured her inspiration over the years through continuous research.

Talit,-55-x-86-cm(open),-oil-on-wood,-2014Zohar Fraiman: Talit (Opened)

“So to me, I see this as a woman, who is not physically or emotionally ready for a fixed marriage and for me a lot to discuss: forced marriage and women that are not aware or able to get to know their own sexuality. […]  I am constantly looking, reading, watching things that are related to the subject of possession.

Before facing the white canvas comes the part where imagination enables her to visualize what she wants to express with the painting.

“The painting is at first a white canvas, and I imagine everything that I could put into it. It’s again thinking about inspiration. I think about colors and paintings I love, and things that I want to see, that are only in my head but that are not out there. […] It goes back again to the vision that you want to put on the canvas. You want to see a certain image, a certain feeling, a certain something out there on the canvas.”

This visualization is important to be able to focus, which a prerequisite for painting. To Fraiman, painting is like a dance and music acts as a catalyzer to put on the canvas what she wants to express:

“For painting, you need a few things: you need a lot of guts, you need to be passionate and you also need to be attentive and listening. If you don’t have these guts or this kind of strength in your painting, I feel that things don’t really come through. You need to take it from inside and bring it out. […] What helps me a lot to paint is listening to music. While I paint, I listen to music 95% of the time […] when you are painting, you are using your whole body. You are standing on your feet, moving back and forth, using your arms, moving your head. It’s like a dance. So the music enables me to connect all of that.”

Nevertheless, the results often vary. The painter leaves a lot of room for intuition and dialogue with the object. The initial planning becomes less relevant when the process has started and the outcome emerges from the process:

“It changes a lot. There are times where I just paint, paint, and paint, and even though I’ve made a plan, all of the painting is just like running out of my hand; it just flows in a way that I can’t control it anymore. I have an idea. I don’t plan anything, and it just comes out in the painting.”

The notion of feedback is an important point to foster reflection. Indeed, it enables her to get a fresh view on her works. Yet, she explains that not every feedback is to be taken into account. In her eyes, a feedback worth hearing is a sincere analysis.

“Also. When I have an exhibition and somebody that I never met before says something, I try to listen and to see if there is any substance of any given view. They don’t know me […] they have no insights into all my history […] and they can see something that can be really refreshing and very simple, that can give you a better understanding of where you are standing now. […] Earlier it used to be more painters and now it’s everyone whose opinion I appreciate, it doesn’t matter if they are painters, or if they do whatever. As long as I see what they have to say as something sincere.

Finally, to the question “What do you think people in Business or in other disciplines can learn from artists?”, her answer leads us to think that artists can show the way to step forward and to say what needs to be said to improve the actual conditions.

“I think that artists have a certain ability of reflection because they are engaged all the time with being creative, challenging, engaging in certain themes, etc. I feel that artists have a very strong reflection of society and of people and of who we are. I think that these things are connected. I had a discussion with a friend of mine, who is politically very active, and he keeps saying to me like “Art is useless, you don’t need it. It doesn’t give you anything”. I kept answering him “It gives everything.”

Read the full interview here.

Talit,-55-x-43-cm(closed),-oil-on-wood,-2014Zohar Fraiman: Talit (Closed)

Thanks to Hendrik Achenbach for his support with this blog!

Picture Source: Zohar Fraiman
Portrait: Age of Artists



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    That was some really nice answers Zohar fraiman. Only a professional with years of experience knows how things work in painting. You are the artist of thoughts this world really needs to know about your achievements.

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    Thank you for this article because it’s really informative, I love reading your article and I hope that I will read some more about painting, it’s really informative and very entertaining.

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