Lea Nikel was born in Ukraine in 1918, immigrated to Palestine when she was two years old. She grew up in Tel Aviv, studied with Gliksberg, Steimatsky and Streichman. To continue her studies she travelled to Paris where she lived and worked between 1950-1961, a determinant decade in the history of postwar European art. Nikel was involved in the artistic and social life and in the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Paris.
Since the 60’s she lived intermittently in Israel, New York, France and in the last years of the decade in Rome. Between 1973 and 1977 Nikel worked in New York, living at the Chelsea Hotel, a well-known hotel and studio with a reputable position in the history of New York art. From there she returned to Jaffa. Later on she built her home with her spouse Sam Leiman in Moshav Kidron.
Nikel is one of the distinctive representatives of the second generation of the abstract painters that were also known as the “Abstract Expressionists”. Her paintings are characterized by colorfulness, vitality and spontaneity. The main elements in her work are color and materiality and they have formed her unique personal stamp. Nikel uses many varied techniques: paintbrush, scraping, carving, finger painting, dripping and collage.
Nikel is the winner of Israel Prize for painting in 1995. She was awarded many important prizes such as: Dizengoff Prize on behalf of the Tel Aviv Municipality, Gamzu Prize from the Tel Aviv Museum, an honorary doctorate from the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, a medal from UNESCO for her activity as well as the Chevalier of Arts and Letters Award by the French Minister of Culture.
She held many solo and group exhibitions in galleries and museums all over Israel and in the major cities around the world: Retrospective in the Tel Aviv Museum, in the Israel Museum Jerusalem, the Haifa Museum, galleries and museums in Paris, in The Netherlands, New York, London, Japan and more. She represented Israel in the Johannesburg Biennale, South Africa, in the 32nd Biennale in Venice in 1964 and in the Biennale in Chile.
Lea Nikel passed away on September 2005.
1918 – 2005
Born in Zhitomir, Ukraina
Lived and worked in Moshav Kidron, Tel Aviv, New York, Rome, Paris, Ashdod, Safed
1935 Studied for a short while with Chaim Gliksberg
1946-47Studied in the Steimatsky and Streichman studio in Tel Aviv
2018 Black Butterfly: 100 Year Anniversary Of Her Birth, Chelouche Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel
2013 The Spectacle of Lea Nikel, Chelouche Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel
2005 Lea Nikel – Watercolor on Paper, Hacheder, Tel Aviv, Israel
2004 Lea Nikel – Paris 1950-1961, Mane Katz Museum, Haifa, Israel
2002 Lea Nikel – New Works 1998-2002, Zommer Contemporary Art Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel
2001 Lea Nikel – Works on Paper 1950-2000, Open Museum at Omer Industrial Park, Omer, Israel
1995 Lea Nikel – A Retrospective, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel
1992 Lea Nikel: Book, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Helena Rubinstein Pavilion, Tel Aviv, Israel
Nikel – Monoprints, the Israel Museum, Jerusalem
1990 Nikel, Givon Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel
Barbican Center, London, England
1989 Mokotoff Gallery, New York, NY, U.S.A.
1988 Givon Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel
Lea Nikel, the Gallery at Cabri, Kibbutz Cabri, Israel
1987 Lea Nikel: Works on Paper, the Museum of Israeli Art, Ramat Gan, Israel
Mokotoff Gallery, New York, NY, U.S.A.
1986 Lea Nikel: Work in Small Dimensions, Meimad Katan Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel
1985 Lea Nikel, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
1984 Sara Gilat Gallery, Jerusalem
1983 Dvir Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel
1980 Lea Nikel: Works 1974-1976, Sara Gilat Gallery, Jerusalem
1979 Sara Gilat Gallery, Jerusalem
1978 Sara Gilat Gallery, Jerusalem
1975 Watercolors, Collages & Mixed Media, America-Israel Cultural Center, New York, U.S.A.
1973 Lea Nikel: Paintings 1963-1973, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Helena Rubinstein Pavilion, Tel Aviv, Israel
1972 Selected Works of Lea Nikel, Gordon Gallery II, Tel Aviv, Israel
1970 Chemerinsky Art Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel
1967 Gordon Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel
1966 Lea Nikel – Recent Paintings, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Dizengoff House, Israel
1965 Lea Nikel, Chemerinsky Art Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel
1961 Lea Nikel: Paintings, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Dizengoff House, Israel
1957 Galerie Espace, Haarlem, Holland
Galerie Colette Allendy, Paris, France
1954 Chemerinsky Art Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel
Selected Group Exhibitions
2002 Focus on Painting, Haifa Museum of Art, Haifa, Israel
1995 The Johannesburg Biennale – Africus `95, the 1st Biennale of South Africa, Johannesburg
1994 The Printers’ Imprint- 20 Years of the Jerusalem Print Workshop, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
Art Miami ’93, Barbara Scott Gallery, Miami, Florida, U.S.A.
1993 Mutual Feedback, Florence Miller Art Center, Print Workshop, Jerusalem
1992 Sara Levi Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel
Israeli Art from the Ayala Zacks-Abramov Collections, the Israel Museum, Jerusalem
Print+, Ashdod Museum, Ashdod, Israel
1991 The Secret of Color Reduction, traveling exhibition organized by the Ministry of Education and Culture, The America-Israel Cultural Foundation and Omanut La`am
1990 Drawing and Beyond, Givon Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel
Dialogue with Stematsky, Artists` Studios, Tel Aviv, Israel
1989 The Gallery in Cabri, Kibbutz Cabri, Israel
1988 Artist at the Gallery in Cabri, Kibbutz Cabri, Israel
1st International Triennial of Small-Format Prints, Auvergne, France
1987 Israel Painting in Big Format, Museum of Israeli Art, Ramat Gan, Israel
Prizes and Awards
1987 Gamzu Prize, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel
1985 Medal for activity at the UNESCO Experimental Workshop on the Place of
Contemporary Art and the Role of the Artist in the Teaching of Visual Arts
at Schools, Nice, France
1982 Dizengoff Prize, Tel Aviv Municipality, Israel
1966 Sandberg Prize, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
1968 The National Council of Culture and Art Prize, awarded by the Ministry of Education and Culture, Jerusalem
1953 First Prize at the “Israeli Painters in Paris” exhibition, Galerie Zak, Paris, France
Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel
The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
Museum of Modern Art, Haifa, Israel
Haifa Museum of Modern Art Israel;
The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel;
Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel;
Kibbutz Kabri, Israel;
Chaim Atar Museum of Art, Ein Harod, Israel;
The Jerusalem Municipality, Mishkenot Sha’ananim, and the Jerusalem Theater;
Bank Leumi L’Israel;
Israel Discount Bank;
El-Al Israel Airlines;
Weizmann Institute of Science;
The National Museum of Modern Art, Paris;
Tate Gallery, London;
The Newark Museum, Newark, New Jersey
Chelouche Gallery is one of the most prominent and leading galleries in Israel. Located in Tel Aviv, Chelouche Gallery maintains its primacy by presenting a large variety of works, ranging from video art to sculpture, painting, installation and photography. Since its inception, the gallery has been promoting an international and local exhibition program, in collaboration with curators and artists from Israel and around the world, placing itself one step ahead in the Israeli contemporary art scene.