By Judith Kahn
Jeffrey Nemeroff’s artwork is very well traveled. He has exhibited throughout the United States, Asia, Europe, Russia and the Middle East. For now, he’s showing the fruits of his creativity on San Francisco’s west side.
Throughout his career, he has engaged many different mediums, saying his goal “isn’t to produce a pretty picture, but to tap into some emotion I enjoy, challenging myself – and in turn challenging the viewer.”
For a decade or more, Nemeroff’s compositions were dominated by the human form. Then, as he worked on a series of figures in collage with string, his focus was pulled in another direction: the accidental forms that emerged from the string. The challenge of establishing a composition from the disorganization gradually pushed the work into a more abstract vein.
The majority of his latest pieces employ fibers and deconstructed canvas as a kind of drawing tool and develops “primarily unmethodical form over an acrylic ground.” Materials including silver leaf, wallpaper, fabric, or found objects may also be incorporated, finishing with multiple layers of oils and glazes, a more classical painting technique.
In 2016, Nemeroff did a month-long art residency above the Arctic Circle in Norway, and here he began to concentrate on the ocean and seascapes as a subject. He said he has always been drawn to water. In high school he swam competitively, played water polo, and practically lived on the beach. The studio where he worked in Norway afforded him a 180-degree view of the mountains and sea.
“I think it was something about the island setting and the beautiful light that flipped a switch,” Nemeroff said. He said it sent his work in a completely new direction.
He created a new series of seascapes in Norway, describing it as “capturing its power and vastness as well as its vulnerability.”
“I’m interested in expressing a feeling or memory rather than a literal representation of the place itself,” he said. “That brief moment when the relationship between water, earth and sky will never be the same again.”
The experience revitalized his relationship with the environment, and it directly impacted his choice of subject matter. It also refined the range of his color palette. This limited palette further dissociates the paintings from literal reality.
“This experience – and my fading memory of it – is as impermanent as the oceans themselves,” he said.
Raised near Los Angeles, Nemeroff began his study of art early. His parents were very influential on his work.
“Neither were artists, per se, but both are very creative and were instrumental in exposing me to the arts, including visual art, theater, music, etc.,” he said.
They also provided lessons in music and art, “everything I wanted to do,” he added.
He also speculated why he has been drawing or painting in one form or another for his entire life.
“It must be something about the sense of discovery and problem solving that has driven me for so long,” Nemeroff said.
There was never a question about career path. Art was something he just wanted to do. In college, he studied fine art and design, completing a BFA with a focus on art history. He continued his education in painting at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, and at this time began to exhibit his work.
In addition, Nemeroff enjoyed a successful career as a creative director. For nearly 15 years, he directed the photography and design of Architectural Digest magazine, dividing his time between Los Angeles and New York. During his tenure there, he had the good fortune to work with the world’s top photographers, interior designers and architects. In 2011, Nemeroff decided to leave the magazine, moving to San Francisco and turning his attention exclusively to the arts.
Nemeroff points out that although he might lose himself in the creative process, it is not necessarily relaxing or meditative for him. Rather, he gets pleasure from the sense of discovery and problem solving of the creative process that drives him.
“For some reason, I now find sculpting with papier-mâché, plaster, and wood less mentally and physically demanding than painting,” he said. “Since seascapes have dominated my work for the past five years, it feels natural to build upon the ocean as a subject.”
His hope is that the new, multidisciplinary work will speak to climate change, extinction, and our human plight, as well as our individual challenges.
Nemeroff has many interests and pastimes. He loves to see the work of other artists, hear live music, and enjoy good food. A hoarder of art books, he is forever poring over a wide array of artists, styles and subjects. He and his wife, Catherine, live in Sutro Heights, so Lands End and Ocean Beach are where they take daily walks with their dog, always with camera in hand to capture inspiration. He enjoys working in his garden and is eager to travel once again, after the pandemic constraints loosen up.
For now, he looks forward to the continued exploration of different processes and mediums for new compositions and images in his art.
The artist has had two solo exhibits at Far Out Gallery on Taraval Street in the Outer Sunset District and has shown his work at Great Highway Gallery and Yonder Shop. Currently, readers can view some of his pieces at Avenue 12 Gallery on Lake Street.
For more information about Jeffrey Nemeroff and his work, go to www.jeffreynemeroff.com.