Chilean painter, famous for representations of exile, dies at 72

Artist Patricia Israel was remembered for her multi-faceted and experimental artistic style, during a Santiago funeral.


Chile’s tight-knit art community gathered earlier this week to commemorate the life and work of Patricia Israel Korenblit, who died November 21 at the age of 72.

Israel was recently nominated for the 2011 National Art Prize, after reappearing in the Santiago art scene with the 2009 publication of her book, “Cuerpos impresos (Metales Pesados),” a compendium of her work that has been described as a graphic essay, with a mix of personal and professional references.

At the time of her death, Israel was preparing for an exhibit at the stylish Patricia Ready Art Gallery. Gallery Director Patricia Ready told daily newspaper La Tercera, “She was very active, always working… her work was full of poetry and a unique style.”

Israel worked with oils, acrylic and mixed media. In her own words: “Beauty is something more than color, material and form. Beauty is in love, in justice, in respect for nature. I believe that is what makes my art the way it is. A power of synthesis that says everything.”

The artist was best known for her work expressing the human condition of exile. She was born in 1939 in the southern Chilean city of Temuco, to Jewish parents fleeing the Second World War. Later, after studying at the Universidad de Chile’s Fine Arts School, Israel herself was forced to flee during the 1973 military coup, spending the years between 1974 and 1980 in Argentina and Venezuela.

On returning to Chile in the 1980’s, Israel taught as a professor of Graphic Arts at the Universidad Católica. Her work began to incorporate new aspects of graphic art techniques including painting, sketching, collage and engraving. In 1993, she became one of the founding members of the Universidad Finis Terrae’s art school.

Today, the director of the Finis Terrae art school, Teresa Gazitúa, said, “Her death comes a surprise. She left an indelible mark on the formation of artists. She had clear ideas and her brushstrokes were loose and expressive.”

The painting depicted here is titled “Un lugar de oracíon” – A Place of Prayer. For more information about her artwork, visit the website of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes.