Shimon Finkelstein and Orna Adoram: Finding Beauty in the Seemingly Mundane through Abstraction

India-Lynn Upshaw-Ruffner October 19 2021


Are you interested in abstract art? Learn about how featured artists Shimon Finklestein and Orna Adoram use abstraction in their practices to find beauty and share their life experiences.

Shimon Finkelstein

Shimon Finkelstein

Shimon Finkelstein is a photographer currently based in Israel. Finkelstein started using photography to capture meaningful moments and experiences during his business travels. Since then, photography has grown into a passion and addiction for him. Finkelstein owned a furniture business where the motto was “we don't sell furniture, we sell an experience”. He still carries this motto with him today, as he believes that you have to live an experience yourself before selling it.

Finkelstein’s passion for photography came out of a desire to find better ways to communicate his experiences. He began his artistic practices by making photo presentations to share his journey around the world. He also made audio recordings of conversations and verbal notes from himself, as well as sculptures.

Finkelstein then discovered a secret language in nature; he started to find different pictures in the wood grain of the furniture in his store. He saw the added value he gained from taking hyper up-close photos of these textures. He realized he had a talent for seeing the small details in textures, whether it be in the floor of a grocery store, or textures in the natural world. He then began to notice the erosion process of objects like metal, walls, cement, and even bark.

“Of the wall (loneliness)” by Shimon Finkelstein

Nature creates images through wind, water, and air over time. Finklestein sees things like rust and mold as discoveries instead of problems. “There is such beautiful imagery in “negative” processes,” Finkelstein explains. He seeks to find beauty in the seemingly mundane or ugly through photography. Size is also something important for Finkelstein’s pieces; he wants to enlarge what he sees in small spaces to uncover their hidden beauty.

During the pandemic, both Finkelstein and his wife got serious cases of coronavirus, and this caused him to undergo deep introspection into his practice. He realized that nothing is certain, and that all plans can evaporate in a minute. Part of his recovery process was walking on the shores of Israel, where he found man-made dirt and sea glass.

Finkelstein views sea glass as a gift from the ocean, and he began using it to create sculptures. He also includes stones and shells that have been affected by oil spills or mixed with discarded construction material fragments.

Seaglass sculpture by Shimon Finkelstein

The details in Finkelstein’s photographs are endless. Every time he looks at the pieces, he finds new things and creates new images. It is also common to see faces and figure-like objects in the pieces, and to create stories, a phenomenon known as pareidolia. The orientation of his photographs isn't important either, because each side showcases a different story.

Finkelstein doesn’t want to preach or tell people what to see in his work. His goal is simply to share his experiences. He believes art needs to be felt, and it's something very personal to each individual. Finkelstein believes what’s most important is what the viewer sees, not his perception of the pieces. His titles are not there to influence the viewer on what to look for or on how to interpret the piece. They are simply a reflection of how Shimon was feeling in the moment; a time capsule of sorts. He prefers his titles to be ambiguous, and wants to remove its importance in relation to his artwork’s interpretation.

Language and words are something Finkelstein values, and he recognises their power and influence over art. For him, writing about art is a sensory experience. An emotional response is triggered when he can see, smell, and hear what a writer is talking about, and feel what resonated with them about an artwork through their writing.

Describing passion is something Finkelstein is fascinated by, and he has been searching for writing that can do this effectively. He feels that every great artist needs to have someone to write their experience, and writing is a powerful tool that can replace senses when experiencing art.

“Process 3” by Shimon Finkelstein

Shimon has a certain wisdom and down to earth methodology when it comes to his practice. He practices meditation to center himself and de-stress. He becomes in tune with his body when taking photographs, and knows he has found something special when he gets goosebumps. He also tries to look for eyes in his subject matter, finding places where the textures in nature are looking back towards him. Nature welcomed him, and he found it everywhere. He is fascinated with how nature paints without rules or regulations over time on surfaces.

Finkelstein’s advice for emerging artists is to not give up on your dream. “There are so many times that you will question yourself or wonder what people think,” says Finkestein. But, he kept following his passion and his curiosity. Every famous artist goes through similar challenges, and Shimon advises writers to “just keep continuing making art no matter what, if it is something you truly love”.

Orna Adoram

Image sourced from

Adoram is an abstract painter based in Tel Aviv, Israel. She is in tune with her emotions and her reactions to the materials she uses, and she translates this into her paintings. Her work has been showcased in exhibitions across America and Europe.

Adoram has lived through many wars, and her family has been deeply affected by this. She is the mother of soldiers, and the wisdom she has gained throughout her life shows itself through her artworks and her process.

Adoram sees her art as a journey: a journey delving into the story of her Nona’s family that was killed in the holocaust in Thessaloniki. A journey delving into her fears as a mother to soldiers in her country. A journey of love, joy, and her love for her children. A journey expressing her love for her country of Israel, and her love for her friend who accompanied her along the way – a journey into herself.

“Longing for NYC” by Orna Adoram

Adoram’s art-making process is an internal one; she is heavily influenced by everything she goes through in her life. Creating her own happiness is central in her work, and she strives to work out of happiness instead of suffering, something she consciously does every day in her studio.

Adoram has been painting since she was very young. In addition to her interior design studies in Parsons New York, she took practical art courses in the Art Students League. After 20 years of running her own successful interior design firm, she decided to close it down and devote herself to her art instead. She began by using different styles and materials that she became familiar with as a designer.

“Going back to painting and closing my firm changed my life” explains Adoram. “I have chosen a different path to walk through. Went outside of the daily race. I start my mornings with a long walk on the beach, then I come back to my studio to work.”

“Not A Gray day” by Orna Adoram

Adoram began to focus on abstract painting techniques after the closure of her office, as she felt that the medium “chose her and drew her in”.

Adoram does not follow a strict process for starting a new project. In her interview with Bidgala, she described what a typical day for her is like: “After a morning walk along the beach or morning meditation, I go upstairs to my studio. I don’t plan, just wander around picking up a canvas, big or small , and feeling the materials and colors that are right for me this morning. I can stop and get back to the unfinished canvas that was waiting for me from yesterday, last week, or a long time ago. I move between the paintings based upon my feelings of that particular day.”

In addition to abstraction, Adoram uses recycled materials in her work. The type of recycled materials that she uses is a very important part in creating her art. Her world is between Tel Aviv, which is the center of her family and work life, and New York, her creative center where she lived and studied.

“Love letters” by Orna Adoram

Due to her background in the architectural world, Adoram is familiar with building materials, and she likes incorporating them a lot in her works. She gets leftovers from constructors she used to work with, leftover papers that she’s used, or finds materials out in the world. These are an important part of her inspiration. She always finds creative ways to incorporate unconventional materials into her paintings, making an ugly and mundane material into something beautiful.

Adoram believes that just as each child needs an adult to believe in them, an artist needs a professional to believe in their art. She feels she was very lucky that one of the best artists and curators In Israel told her “don’t stop painting” at the beginning of her professional path. So, Adoram likes to pay it forward by telling young artists to “go with your heart, trust yourself, but also get professional advice”.

Orna Adoram and Shimon Finkelstein's work can be found on Bidgala.

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