Henry Bismuth relocated from France to United States in 2010 and now maintains his home and studio in New York.
The structure of his work reflects his early passion for the refinements of Japanese classical art. Each composition of multiple images is asymmetrically balanced. Each element is calculated and no positioning is random. Through each change of image alchemically a new meaning is presented. The subject, shadows, remains throughout his work and assists in the transformation, and thus the linkage, of what was into something else, Bismuth’s present.
In combinations that reclaim subconscious memory, his paintings are a diary in images, which bear witness to his personal reality and to his spiritual journey of self-discovery. They are culled from a myriad pool of influences from ancient Asian sculpture to Native American paint horses, from stone walls to logs and trees, from turtles and ravens to skulls, as well as from our daily bombardment from commercial posters and billboards, print and digital advertisements, television and movies, and more. He juxtaposes and re-interprets the historical with the contemporary, the sacred with the natural and the material purposefully cultivating an association of contrasts within a single canvas which ultimately creates a thought provoking and complex interaction between tradition and moderninity in art and culture.
The possibilities Bismuth proposes he leaves the viewer to interpret using his/her imagination, to "see" with the "eye" and the "I" what is visible and what is left invisible for there is much left unsaid. The shadows by themselves, for instance, do not have an existence. They do, however, reveal what does and by so doing creat a link between markedly distinct imagery. His "windows" do the same.
His paintings are not environmental, ephemeral, political, sexual, social, technological, or violent. Rather through his visual dialogue of iconic images in a single painting, he takes on the universal subjects of myth, transcendence, and spiritual revelation seeking to create community between people through cultural exchange and interchange.
Henry Bismuth was born in Paris in 1961. While his official education was in medicine – he left the Faculté de Medecine Xavier Bichat in his next to last year – providing him with an exceptional command of anatomy and musculature, he realized that his path was not in curing the body but in healing the soul through art. While he dedicated his next two years to extensive independent study of the art world’s masters and professional stints in commercial art, illustration, and cartoon/graphic novel characterization, his true education in art began at the age of three with the encourage-ment of his Father who, seeing his drawings, took him regularly to the Louvre and other museums in Paris where he became familiar with the work of European masters as well as that of Egyptian, Greek, and other of the ancients and, subsequently, at the age of eleven, with Asian art which began with the gift of a book on Japanese block prints. Six years later, he made his first of many visits to New York. It was during these visits that he discovered the work of Rubens as well as – most importantly – the work of American masters. These would forever impact his life resulting in 2010 in his relocation to New York.
Since his first two one-man shows held consecutively in Paris and Brussels in December, 1988, his work has been widely exhibited in collective exhibitions in France, Belgium, Denmark, Japan, Malaysia, Russia, Spain, and in the United States, where alone he has had forty museum shows and representation by such as Gerald Peters Gallery and Visions West Galleries.
His first exhibition after relocating to New York from Paris in 2010 was at Art Basel Miami Week. He formally introduced his Asian Vision Series with five paintings. Accompanying these paintings with paintings from his other series of different themes, he noticed anew how recurrent images were entering his oeuvre. Rather than working linearly one series after another, he decided to work spirally henceforth with one series simultaneously enriching another. He, also, realized his entire body of work was a consequence of his Kabalistic journey.
He linked his cultural and spiritual heritage as a Sephardic Jew from Tunisia born and raised in Paris with his Asian Vision Series at the invitational exhibit of the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion Museum in New York, New York in their show titled the “Spectrum of Sexuality.” This exhibit from September 6, 2012 to June 28, 2013 introduced Pardes: A Garden of Pomegranates, the first of his paintings with a Tibetan sculpture. Two other invitational exhibits followed.
The Alchemy of Images Series was officially given birth in April, 2014. The wife of a Chinese official he had known from their days at the United Nations visited his studio accompanied by Ms. Huang Jian, a renowned Chinese sculptress. On seeing Cloud Riders, his first painting of female polo players of the Tang Dynasty, Ms. Jian shared that she had donated a series of eight monumental sculptures – five from the Tang Dynasty and three current day British - to the UK Olympics. The subsequent conversation on the Silk Road and the Maritime Silk Road provided the link he sought between the disparate paintings in his Asian Vision Series, which he merged in 2015 into The Alchemy of Images Series. He has dedicated more than six years to its development.
He began with his business partner in 2015 to benefit select charities including the SPCA of Westchester; Global Scribes Inc., Youth Uniting NationsTM; and the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts.
His first presentation on The Alchemy of Images Series was at the invitation of the Confucius Institute for Business @ SUNY Global Center on July 19th, 2016. He inaugurated their 2016-2017 Chinese Art Series. As their Distinguished Guest Speaker, he spoke of his individual paintings giving their unique “stories” to illustrate the impact of the Silk Road and concurrently reveal art as a universal tool of communication which fosters intellectual and cultural exchange just as the Silk Road itself did and still does.
The Alchemy of Images Series is not over. Bismuth continues to juxtapose, to mix and match the ancient with the contemporary. . . for example, Who is Afraid of the Big Bad Scarecrow!, his recent painting of a Korean sculpture of Buddha alongside the iconic images of Batman and Simpson.
There is more news to come!