Simon Gendler paints people in portraits, nude figure studies, allegorical scenes, in couples, and alone. He depicts humanity with engagement and emotion, observing its variety and spirit, and drawing upon his childhood memories for inspiration.
        Gendler was born in Tomsk, Siberia in 1954 to two medical doctors. His family was originally from Lithuania, but had been exiled to Siberia in 1941 when the Soviet Union invaded. Their exile saved them from the destruction of the inhabitants of their city by the Germans just few weeks later. Growing up in Siberia in a Jewish family of professionals, Gendler was nonetheless immersed in the working class atmosphere of his classmates at school.
        Memories of his childhood continue to inform his paintings in fundamental ways. There are figures with a bottle of vodka and the bones of a herring, recalling scenes in friends homes. Portraits of intoxicated men recall the drinking that was part of everyday life. There are recurring images of vagrants who like religious pilgrims traveled from town to town. Gendler recalls growing up near a mental hospital, and figures suggested by the patients keep making an appearance in his paintings. Chickens, ritually slaughtered by his grandfather, are a repeated presence in his work, along with the churches that he visited as a child.
        It was in those churches that Gendler was exposed to stained glass, wall paintings, and especially icons, which he cites as a formative influence. After graduating college with a degree in architectural engineering, he got a job three and a half hours from Moscow, which he visited frequently. There he encountered the dissident artist’s movement and was exposed to living, contemporary art, and it inspired him to paint. He picked up the fundamentals of painting from a number of artists who he met, starting with a series of self-portraits in shades of green.
        In 1978, Gendler moved to Vilinius, Lithuania with his brother Eli, a physician and great supporter of his work, in order to emigrate. With their parents they traveled to Vienna and then to Rome, and eventually to Los Angeles, where they had relatives. Gendler explored the city, met fellow painters, and took a series of workshops and classes at UCLA and the Otis Art Institute that helped focus his direction a painter. Arnold Schifrin, a painter, became a mentor. In that period, Gendler worked as a computer programmer, primarily for banks, and painted in the garage of his family's home, then a laundry room, and finally in his own studio.
        Gendler's first opportunity to show his work was in the gallery of the Jewish Community Center, and then through an introduction by the painter Anthony James he had a solo exhibition of his work at the Ichikawa Gallery. After this first commercial success, the artist went on to show his work in solo exhibitions at the Boritzer/Gray Gallery, Santa Monica, CA, and the Roy and Frances Brandstater Gallery, Riverside, CA. Group exhibitions include Moroth Gallery, Santa Monica, CA, Craig Cary Art Gallery, Municipal Art Gallery, Ivey Gallery, Ankrum Gallery, and Pierce Gallery, all in Los Angeles.

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