Tight-roping a compelling line between classic and digital art, Shir Pakman’s gaze ushers in the future.

Words by Elianna Bar-El


Indulge a surrealist world where Botero’s voluminous figures and Modigliani’s aching portraits join a quarantine thrupple with 50s elastic icon Gumby. You’ve entered the realm of Shir Pakman’s larger-than-life, 3D beings. Luminous, overwhelmingly expressive eyes are the 32-year-old Pakman’s signature, burning holes through your face with their knowing, bored gaze. So impressive, they make a momentous impact even in the works where her subjects are resting with their eyes closed, or even just barely peeking through sausage-thick fingers.

Each work goes into so much detail that you don’t quite know where to land, and as a viewer, you are plunged into a topsy turvy portal of shapes and mazes, as if you are falling while sitting upright and being smacked in the face. Herein lies the waiting for the other ball to drop. A graduate of Jerusalem’s prestigious Bezalel Academy of Art & Design, where Pakman studied animation and screen-based arts, her feminist, bizarre and sometimes sexy works are a magnified tale of the times - insomnia and loopy brain games all depicting digital art in quarantine-saturated months-to-years that no one sees an end to. In her late-night illustrations of self-described ‘bubble heads’, saucer-eyed faces in multiple states of glowering to confused, with limbs floundering about, you can feel the waiting. The impatient finger-tapping. The haphazard need to move and be out.

Continuously drawing deep insight from art history and classical art composition and themes, in her painterly series ‘My Masterpiece,’ Pakman reconfigures some of the most famous paintings ever created, yet spun with her personal impression. “I started to do NFTs with this particular series. ‘My Mona’, ‘My Ophelia’, and others are my interpretations of the art works,” she explains. “All are females who aren’t defined by typical standards of beauty; they were all created by male artists and how they saw a woman. In my renditions, I sought to give the power to the woman and not to those looking at them. Mine are 3D, classical paintings from art history that bridge the past with modern techniques and viewpoints.” She continues: “I keep what the artists’ intended to capture in their work. It is not a conscious decision, but I do try to look specifically at what makes each of the pieces so unique and so universally loved. I try to keep that and change the rest.” For now, Pakman is zeroing in on her most continuous challenge as a digital artist:  “My latest obsession is trying to capture the essence of sketching; the mindless feeling - you just pour it out. I am trying to do the same in 3D. But working in 3D is not fast,” she explains. “It is unemotional and everything is intentional, technique-driven. I am trying to bring more fluidity to the medium.”

Pakman’s NFT works are displayed on Foundation, Super Rare, Dissrup and Institut.