Judith Simonian Dreams In Color

1 GAP Gallery, “Plush”, Paintings by Judith Simonian, September 29, 2022–January 9, 2023

“Extreme Ikebana” (2013) 66” x 84”

The Gestalt Therapy approach to dreams is quite different than the Freudian or Jungian model. Snakes are not defacto penises and mythical archetypes are not employed. Instead, the analysand is asked to become some image in the dream.
For example if I were to say, “I’m standing at the door of a large room uncertain about how to enter it. The floor and the tables are tilting. I am looking at two floral arrangements that might be made of light…” the therapist might say, “Be the floral arrangement.”
Me: “I am in the center of a confusing space, people are looking at me and don’t understand me and the water seems to be rising…”

Simonian paints dreams. (I think.) I suppose that kind of painting, which seems to be coming back around, is usually called Surrealism. But Simonian does not go for the symbolic; her aim is the particular physical and visual experience.

And the surrealists weren’t very good with the paint, you know, and Simonian can do anything with it. Textures, surfaces, atmospheres, bleeds, drips; strokes that are varied, ranging from coarse to delicate, beautiful in the aggregate and stunning in detail.

“Custom Carpet” (2017) 72” x 64”

I am looking into a deep gorge and a river made of the rainbow is flowing towards me. (Simonian’s paintings explode into technicolor rainbows often.) Then I notice that there is an encampment on a grassy bluff bathed in afternoon light and I would like to go there. The river and the precipitous sides of the cliffs are painted with a large expressive ease and this camp area high on the left side of the painting is composed of small and careful strokes—but somehow Simonian has made it work together perhaps because you can look at the detail or look at the whole but not both at the same time.

“Wedding Hall” (2011) 16” x 20”

At first, the lush painting of the foreground appears maybe to be petals on water and it’s overpowering so it takes a while to see that there seems to be a bride and groom in the distance and I realize I’m at a wedding. I actually said to my friend, “Do you think it’s a bride and groom in the distance?” Then we looked at the title.

”And All I Could Do is Cry”—Listen to Etta James sing it: “For them life has just begun and mine is at an end…”



“BAU Canoes in the Calanque” (2019) 23” x 28”

At first I didn’t think much of BAU Canoes… and then I noticed the shadows under the kayaks and how that lifted them in a transparent sea, then felt a confusion about whether the kayaks were entering or emerging from an underwater cave. And as my wife said at the opening and a maintenance worker said to me on my second visit, there is something intriguing, something happening in every painting.


“Balou’s Carpet” (2016-18) 56” x 64”

Balou’s Carpet is an ab-ex painting that resolves itself into an art studio floor with all the pentimenti of spray-painted silhouettes and drips and people standing on it in funny shoes that then unresolves itself back into an ab-ex painting. This painting moves and it’s not the only one.

Maybe people have gotten the idea from books and online viewing that paintings just sit there, but the good ones don’t.

At this point I was going to end with a brilliant analysis of exactly what Judith Simonian is doing and how she does it.

But I got the Covid four days ago. I’m better but still in a bit of the fog so thankfully I can let that go and just say that every painting has some surprise or slow revelation or question. Is that a red bra hung over a chair in the living room at dawn? Is Two Red Chairs a still from a Godard movie? Is the party over? Has it started yet? Why did everybody leave the pool area suddenly?..

IGAP is not open to the public except for events, openings and by appointment. It’s easy to get an appointment though. I’ve put the information below.


To visit the gallery after the opening reception, please email Elizabeth Heskin: eheskin@gmail.com to arrange an appointment.

“Twin Boats” (c.2015) 21” x 46”