It's not every day you come across stunning artwork that tells a story and a beautiful family that brings that story alive. I went to the Jean-Pierre Weill Art Gallery on the outskirts of Jerusalem to see the artwork, and meet with Davida and Safira.
Shalom Davida and Safira! Thank you for inviting BE1 to your beautiful studio gallery. Please share something about yourselves, and how you both became involved in the Jean-Pierre Weill 3D Painting on Glass family business. Let’s start with you, Davida.
Well, I have a BA in Creative Writing and I moved to Israel right after I finished my undergraduate studies. Moving to Israel was always a dream of mine. I am pretty busy raising my 4 young children (the oldest is 5 1/2 ). My parents came to visit when my eldest was born. On that visit they decided that they were also going to move to Israel. In fact, they actually moved to Tekoa, to a house a five-minute walk from me, and the studio came with them, so it was a very natural evolution once my parents were living nearby and the studio was here for me to join and contribute what I had to offer creatively to the studio. I grew up with my father’s work and I love it. He started painting on glass when I was seven years old. I remember… I have all kinds of memories from my father's studio. I even remember helping. He had a small painting back then, at the beginning, of a chuppa scene. There were vines around the poles of the wedding canopy and I remember sitting at the kitchen table and coloring the leaves in green. It was exciting because I was contributing to my father's work. Actually, even today, I get a bit of a flashback to that moment when I'm coloring in leaves.
Over to you, Safira.
I've been painting since I was a little girl. I have memories of sitting on my father's studio floor and drawing big animal pictures at the age of 5. I've been drawing and painting ever since. I studied graphic design and art at university and then I moved to Israel and I had this opportunity open up for me to join my family and to be able to express myself through art every day. Basically, after my sister Davida joined the studio it became more like a real possibility for me to join and bring my skills, and also to work with my family.
It felt like a really natural step and it's been beautiful because I've received so much: the work itself has been incredible, and I get to work closely with the people I love. I've even gotten closer to my sister. We live in different cities and now we talk every single day. She is 6 years older than me, and working as partners in the studio has improved our relationship. And it's working. It could've gone the other way. In fact, this was a concern when I first joined - that mixing work and family is sometimes a dangerous thing to do - but thankfully, for us it was the opposite, and it brought us closer together. Yeah, it made our communication better.
Davida and Safira, where do you get your ideas for the paintings from? Where does the inspiration come from? I'll start with you Davida.
My ideas definitely connect to my creative writing background and to the world of fantasy. I especially enjoy poetry, so making associations through loose yet coherent connections, which brings a richness, definitely get expressed in the paintings. I also get a lot of inspiration from living in Israel, with its very rich and complex history and society, and that also gets expressed in the artwork.
Over to you, Safira.
My ideas come largely from interactions between people and places that I've been. In Jean-Pierre Weill paintings, one of the aspects that I love most is the relationships that play out in each piece, so you might have lovers or a family or even a business interaction, and they're all telling stories about the interactions we have each day. I take things that I see, for example, when sitting in a café or walking down the street. I love traveling and I take inspiration from those places I’ve been.
Through interactions, I see relationships translated and expressed in a visual way. I have a very visual memory. The language through which I most experience the world, of memory and understanding and the way I express myself is very visually based. So, to answer your question, my inspiration really comes through my life, walking around. It’s based in seeing an image which expresses something special or important to me.
Davida and Safira, in your eyes, what makes your father's art so special?
I think that the 3D element of his artwork makes it stand out in a really special way. In large part that’s because of the sense of movement that is created in the space that's not just up and down but also in. It's an added dimension to the artwork and makes it very special.
I think there is this specific and sweet play between light and color and depth, and through this method he has captured a unique visual experience. I think that is what gives it its specific taste. There is a lot of art which has a lot of detail, dimensions, but here we have light, color and depth working together.
Davida and Safira, which is your favorite painting and what is the story behind it? Davida, let's start with you.
I connect to different paintings depending on how I'm feeling or what I'm experiencing, so I have a number of 'go-to's, but one of my favorites is "Forest Avenue," and that painting connects me to a fantasy world in which all things are possible. I remember as a child imagining the clouds being different creatures. And my father describes a memory that he has of a park in France where his family would go when he was young, and he’d walk along and imagine what was ahead. The painting captures that sense of Who knows what I will discover around the next bend — fantastical discoveries along the different avenues of this painting. Sometimes I forget what's hidden there, in the picture, and then I rediscover them. It's really fun. Recently, Safira mentioned a kid climbing a tree, on the second level of glass, hiding behind some other trees. I hadn’t noticed it the first or the second time that I looked at the painting, and then I noticed it, and that gave me a special kind of pleasure.
Your turn, Safira.
"Nature is a Temple" is my favorite painting. And it's really for a simple reason. The painting takes place in a forest, and there's a girl dancing and the movement of the leaves and color is so… it kind of just wraps you up in it. For me it takes me to a place as a child. I used to love walking, like if a friend had a forest for a backyard, I would love going to those places and fantasizing and it takes me back to that place, that childhood dream, a simple space that I really love.
Davida and Safira, please tell me about the different collections. Davida?
Right now, we have the Gift Collection, the Limited Collection and the Grand Collection, and there are differences in the size of the paintings, and the price, but artistically the differences are in the degree of sophistication. The smaller paintings are focused on a single interaction—a frozen moment in time, and the larger ones have more space for greater complexity in the story that they are telling. So there is more of a past and a future and multiple interactions going on.
Safira, over to you.
I'm the most involved in, and I have the most fun with, the Grand Collection. There is the space to create a higher emotion. I can use more splashes of color and go into detail and create, and open up in another area because there is more area to work. Stepping back you can really experience it, really enjoy it.
Can you tell me about the Jean-Pierre galleries here in Israel and abroad?
When the studio was based in the States, my father's work was displayed in galleries across the country, as well as in Hong Kong, Japan and Russia. Now that we're in Israel, we've focused on developing relationships with galleries locally, so we have our work in a few carefully chosen high-end galleries in prime locations like Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Safed, where the artwork can be seen by a large spectrum of people passing through.
We also invite people to come to our studio in Tekoa, where we have a very special display. It’s great when people come directly to us, because then we have the opportunity to share the artwork directly.
Do you have anything else to add before we wrap up?
I’d like to add something else, something important: Aside from our relationship in the studio, my father is somebody that I have great admiration for. He has taught me a lot of life skills, many of which are conveyed in his book, The Well of Being, which is an illustrated account of the search for well-being. The atmosphere in the studio is influenced by the tone of communication and expression that he taught myself and Safira, and actually this is what makes the studio unique. It is a family business which has the family relationship at its core. My father is such a special human being.
I want to add that my dad has always been my mentor, my best teacher. As a kid I always gravitated to making art, drawing and painting and I think that he took my art way more seriously, much earlier than I did. His belief in me and his reaction to what I created and taking it so seriously even as a little kid, it changed at how I looked at what I created and really I'm just thankful for that. It's a big part of my life now. And I need it. I need that venue of expression and I wonder what would have happened if I didn’t have him to listen, you know, visually listen to what I was making. When I was about eleven, I painted a mural on my bedroom wall. I took one whole wall and painted a girl on a horse and it kind of reminds me why I love "Nature is a Temple" so much. It's got the same kind of world and I think that was just an expression of my father encouraging me to go forward with my art. Here! You can take your wall, you are allowed to do that. In the process of mapping it out and drawing it, he, you know, he asked me, where is this going to go and I was so proud of it and everyone who came into my room was like, wow, and it was such a point of – I can do this.
Davida and Safira, thank you for speaking to me. It was a pleasure to hear how you joined the family business and how happy it has made you. Your love and appreciate of your father is unquestionable. Wishing you the best of luck for the future.
Dear Reader, come and see Jean-Pierre Weill 3D paintings on glass for yourselves at: https://www.jeanpierreweill.com/