Sima, Miron

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SIMA, MIRON (1902–1999), Israeli artist. Born in Proskurow, Ukraine, Sima grew up in a secular home with an excellent library that offered him an opportunity to learn about the Russian epic, as well as about European literature and art. Being Jews in Ukraine, Sima's family suffered from the pogroms, and in 1921 they moved to Poland. This tragic existence had a major influence on Sima's future artworks. In 1924 Sima moved to Dresden, where he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts until 1930. As a student Sima was granted three prestigious prizes and three honorable mentions. In 1932 Sima was awarded the prize of the City of Dresden for his painting The Tool-Sharpener (this painting was lost). In May 1933 Sima was ordered to leave Germany and, with the money he earned by selling some of his pictures, he immigrated to his family in Tel Aviv.

As soon as Sima arrived in Tel Aviv, he began to create and to exhibit, but the French-oriented art style of that city was not compatible with his approach as an artist. In Jerusalem Sima found German-born artists to whom he could articulate his feelings, and he moved there in 1938.

From his early days as an artist Sima was attracted to melancholic subjects. As a person with social sensibility, he turned to painting scenes of poverty and suffering. In Dresden he had made a woodcut portfolio called, The Scream (1924, Museum of Art, Ein Harod). The tragic images visible on those sheets of paper describe, in very expressive black and white, contrasts symbolizing death and mourning. They were seen as a reflection of his childhood experience. Later in his life Sima continued to deal with tragic subjects in his art. Although he found it unsuited to the atmosphere of renewal of the state of Israel during its first years, he managed to integrate the shady subjects with the colorful composition that expressed the light of the locale.

Sima used to work repeatedly on his subjects. In addition to his stage designs for the Ohel Theater, Sima created a lithographs album of portraits of the famous Israeli actress Hanna *Rovina (1937). Thanks to his visual sensitivity, the actres was described in dramatic, vivid gestures. One of his late woodcuts of Rovina as Medea (1957) hung in her house until she passed away.

Another album by Sima was dedicated to the German poet Else *Lasker-Schueler (the drawings were created in the 1940s, the album was first published in Germany in 1978, and later in Hebrew in 1983). With just a few lines, Sima captured her image, wandering around the streets of Jerusalem bent and lonely.

The melancholic atmosphere in Sima's art and the serious expression of his self-portrait can be misleading, since Sima was actually a very cheerful and vital person. He used to say that only owing to his sensitivity to the beauty of life was he sensible to its tragic aspect as well.


G. Bar Or, Miron SimaFrom Dresden to Jerusalem (1997).

[Ronit Steinberg (2nd ed.)]