Deborah Simcha Maurer is a versatile Halifax NS (formerly Toronto)-based sculptor/painter/printmaker who has worked in a number of materials, and who has a particular affinity for mixed media. She combines her love of sculpture, painting, and linocut to create colourful, quirky, endearing, character portraits often described as original, delightful, uplifting, and humorous.
Immediately apparent to the viewer is the artist's unsubtle humour. But further familiarity with Deborah's original body of work reveals the mind of an experienced artist who has evolved a mature perspective on life, and her expression of it. Over the decades, she has exhibited widely, won numerous awards and commissions, and has her work in private and corporate collections worldwide.
Born in the early 1950s in rural Chesley, Ontario, the artist spent childhood summers on her grandparents' farm where, in her words, she "spent more time with the animals than with people". She jokingly suggests that "perhaps that's why I visualize and create my character portraits with a sense of distance, as though they are of a different species than I".
The artist developed an insuppressible passion for art at a very young age. Daily, she sat on the front step of her home with her babysitter, an aspiring fashion designer/art student who loved to draw Marilyn Monroe-like models donning mermaid gowns. Deborah recalls, "I would sit beside her and watch with fascination. I too wanted to have a sketch pad on my lap and make beautiful images magically appear". From that time forward, knowing in her heart and mind that she was an artist, Deborah spent her evenings and every spare moment in her room PRACTICING.
The passion for art that was sparked at such an early age intensified over time. She was unrelenting in her pursuit of knowledge and artistic expression, which she gained through study and hands-on experimentation.
Among the legions of artists whose work and lives have indelibly influenced the artist are: William Blake, James Ensor, George Rouault, Edouard Vuillard, Kees VanDongen, Picasso, Ivan Mestrovic, Marc Chagall, Ivan Albright, Willem De Kooning, Francis Bacon, Jackson Pollock....You get the point; the list is endless.
In the Galleries, characters invite the reluctant voyeur into an intimate relationship, wherein the spectator participates in the private world of the subject. The titles themselves often take on a life of their own, and contribute to the newly forming relationship between the two.
Deborah S. approaches her work in a rather unorthodox way. In the past she often worked from live models, or did candid sketches of people going about their day to day activities. She always had a sketchbook, or at least paper and pencils with her to capture interesting subjects.
Over time she has accumulated a collection of sketchbooks that provide an extensive pool of resources from which she draws inspiration for her sculptures, painting, and prints. These books house sketches of people with whom she has secretly connected. It is not unusual for artists to keep sketch books for reference, however, Deborah has an intimate relationship with each of her "characters" in these books, loving, and at the same time exploiting them over and over again in her work.
Each time she connects with a pencil or ink "friend", she interprets and recreates him/her anew. She approaches her work with a freedom that allows her to reinterpret, or remake, as she goes. This organic process, she finds exciting and adventurous. True, she often begins a work with a somewhat pre-conceived notion of where she is going with it. She works very loosely, enabling her to experiment and change direction as the piece evolves. In this way, Deborah S. is able to take inspiration from one of her 'captive friends' time and time again, and create a unique, and very different 'new friend'.
Deborah S. Maurer is a versatile figurative artist/sculptor who works in a variety of media: stone, wax (for bronze casting), ceramic, oils, and mixed and print media. Her work is dynamic and expressive-patiently executed, but always retaining its loose gestural quality. She particularly loves marrying sculpture with painting media. The artist’s work echoes the German Expressionists (who have been her greatest influence), but is alive and dynamic, colorful, and has a humorous quality that is the artist’s own unique personal voice.
Deborah attributes the exuberance in her work to a life-long passion for learning, unrelentingly challenging herself, and the exploration of materials and their expressive qualities.