This story was featured in the August 2016 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art August 2016 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.
Israeli artist Yael Maimon was reluctantly heading down a career path in psychology when she experienced a life-changing moment. One day, acting on a whim, she bought a plane ticket to Rome with a singular mission—to see the Sistine Chapel. When she got home, she knew it was time to put her psychology degree on the shelf, follow a dream, and dedicate herself to art, which had been a strong interest since childhood.
Today Maimon enthusiastically passes the days in her studio in the coastal town of Ashkelon, in Israel’s southern district. She is surrounded by her favorite subjects—oodles of cats who are both her models and muses. Maimon’s loose, expressionistic portraits of the furry felines capture their many poses and daily routines as they stretch out languidly on windowsills or leap onto kitchen countertops. “I want my viewers to feel the magic I see in cats and feel what makes me so passionate about these magnificent animals,” she says.
For Maimon, each cat has its own energy and personality. Her aim is to capture their elusive spirits, whether she renders them in pastel, charcoal, or oil. Inspiration often arrives by watching how the light falls on her four-legged models, and she is captivated by the brightness of white fur against a dark background.
Maimon is an avid student of feline anatomy and even observes cat surgeries at a local animal-rescue center. She is also fascinated by the sense of mystery cats have evoked through the ages. For example, in ancient Egyptian society cats were considered sacred and even mummified after death. Maimon gives shelter to abandoned cats and feeds feral ones. But when asked how many cats she possesses, she replies, “Don’t you know it’s bad luck to count cats?” When pressed on the issue, however, she eventually responds, “probably a few dozen.” Her online biography offers clues to her passion with this quote from Ernest Hemingway: “One cat just leads to another.”
Maimon has participated in art competitions in the United States and won awards from Pastel Journal and The Artist’s Magazine. She hasn’t been to this country yet but does hope to visit someday. —Bonnie Gangelhoff
Abend Gallery, Denver, CO.
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