Benjamin Shiff was born in 1931 in Germany and immigrated to Israel with his family at the age of two. Shiff's participation in the battle for Jerusalem during the War of Independence and the challenging years of the young State of Israel, left an indelible mark on him and shaped his outlook on life. It brought forth, at age forty, an explosion of creative expression. He immerersed himself in painting and explored music, poetry as well as philosophy. The result being that in addition to his extensive body of artwork, Shiff has published three poetry books and two books of short stories. He is also a member of The Hebrew Writers Association in Israel.
After his initial fascination with Belgian Surrealist artist Rene Magritte, Shiff enriched his oil and tempera painting techniques, which were widely used by the Old Masters, through advanced studies in Austria. He sharpened his perspective and added spiritual and mystical dimensions to his work through the study of Philosophy, Kabala, Hasidism and Jewish philosophy.
Shiff’s distinctive style is a blend of realistic figures and a touch of cubism. His figures are drawn from a profound knowledge of human form and its emotional potential, and are examined through a metaphysical prism. The subjects seem to search for comfort and refuge, and possess a kind of lyrical melancholy. They have a translucent quality, an illusion of an inner light. They express the artist’s quest to resolve the conflict between an often cruel reality and his innate idealism. Shiff’s portrayal of women in general and mothers in particular, explores their softness, tenderness and mystery. His other subjects evoke mysticism and spiritual longing that reaches beyond the visual enjoyment of the observer.
Shiff’s paintings hang in many private collections in Europe, the US and Israel.
Benjamin Shiff’s work has spiritual and mysterious dimensions. His paintings are rendered not in the form of illustrations, but as his own personal-artistic contribution to the global debate concerning the place of painting in contemporary art. While Shiff defines himself as "secular", his painting reflects a belief in the worth of the human soul, traditional values, hope, tenderness and love. The artist’s special treatment of the fine, often blurred line between the physical and the metaphysical, the realistic and the surrealistic is the essence of his unique view of the world. Mystical scenes exquisitely merged with Israeli landscapes, especially of Jerusalem; shapes of musical instruments metamorphosed into important compositional elements; symbols, sometimes with the addition of scripture; women in soft poses and gentle mothers and children - all these appear repeatedly in his paintings. In these works, you see a quest for the secrets of the world, carried out meticulously and persistently by the artist.