Simon Shemov

/Simon Shemov
Simon Shemov 2023-09-13T15:15:07+00:00

Project Description

Simon Shemov was born in 1941 in Kavadarci, the Republic of Macedonia. In 1963, he graduated at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Belgrade, Serbia. He obtained his masters degree in 1971/72 at the Slade School of Fine Arts, London University College in Great Britain. From 1970 until 1981, he taught painting and drawing at the Faculty of Architecture in Skopje, and since 1981, he taught painting, drawing, sculpture, handmade paper (cellulose medium) in the capacity of a lecturer, visiting and regular professor at the Faculty of Fine Arts (painting department) at the University of St. Cyril and Methodius Skopje. Between 1993 and 1995, he was the Dean of the Faculty. During the academic year 1991/92, he taught the course Experimental handmade paper at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, as part of the Fullbright Scholar Programme.

Some of the artistic disciplines which he has mastered are: apart from drawing, painting and creating using handmade paper (cellulose medium), he also practices: graphics, mosaic, installation and artistic interventions.

He has given many individual lectures in the capacity of a guest lecturer at the following institutions: Art Institute Chicago; The Universities of: Boston, Iowa, Tempe, Santa Clara – USA, the Musashino University, Tokyo – Japan, as well as at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Veliko Trnovo – Bulgaria.

Between 1993 and 1998, he led the project titled “Types of cellulose fibres of plant based origin in Macedonia” on behalf of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Macedonia. Between 2000 and 2003, he worked as an author and coordinator for the UNESCO and Tempus programmes. The project titled “Cellulose Medium” within the Tempus programme was implemented in partnership with Germany (the Academy of Fine Arts Nuremberg) and Italy (The Scuola Internazionale di Grafica di Venezia).

He is the recipient of numerous national and international awards for his achievements in fine arts.

Independent exhibitions and interventions with colour:

1964   Rabotnicki Univerzitet, Skopje

1967   Kolarac People’s University, Belgrade, Serbia

Rabotnicki Univerzitet, Skopje

1968   Art Gallery, Skopje

1969   Rabotnicki Univerzitet, Strumica

Drama Theatre (together with D. Percinkov), Skopje

1972   New Line Gallery, Bradford, Great Britain

Yugoslavian Club, London, Great Britain

1973   New 57 Gallery, Edinburgh, Great Britain

Skopje (Petar Mazev studio), first happening in Macedonia (together with N. Fidanovski and D. Boven)

Mount Deshat, spatial interventions, together with N. Fidanovski

Skopje, interventions “Blossoming Boulevard” (together with N. Fidanovski)

1974   Skopje, interventions on the flyover – armatures of the unfinished shopping centre “Most”

1976   Museum of Contemporary Art, Skopje

Youth Centre (together with N. Fidanovski), Skopje

1978   City Museum, Kavadarci

1981   Cultural Information Centre, Skopje

1982   Museum of Contemporary Art, (in partnership with N. Fidanovski), Skopje

1983   Prilep (Varosh), Coloured interventions (together with N. Fidanovski)

1984   Butchers “Bace”, Skopje, intervention “In honour of Rembrandt”

Museum of Contemporary Art, Skopje, retrospective exhibition

Youth Centre, Skopje, New tendencies on the Macedonian fine art scene in the last decade

1985   Art Gallery “Skopje”, Skopje

Modern Gallery, Zrenjanin, Yugoslavia

Skopje (Vodno), intervention (spatial impact of colours)

Museum of Contemporary Art, Skopje, intervention “Stripes Colour Palette”

1986   Museum of Contemporary Art (in partnership with N. Fidanovski), Skopje

Cultural Centre (in partnership with N. Fidanovski), Bitola

Yugoslavian Cultural Centre, New York, USA

1990   Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, N. Carolina, USA

Museum of Contemporary Art, Skopje graphics (donated by S. Shemov to the Dental Clinic – Skopje)

1994   Open Studio of Tome Adzievski, Skopje

1995   Museum of Contemporary Art, Skopje (retrospective exhibition)

2000   Millennium Dome, London, Great Britain

Gallery “Aero”, Skopje

Building of studios, Faculty of Fine Arts, Skopje, “House of the Sun”

2001   Nuremberg, Germany

2002   Pordenone, Italy

2003   Art Gallery “Skopje” – Daut Pasin Amam, Skopje, “Holy Forest”

Art Gallery, Bitola (together with Boris Shemov)

2011   Exhibition space “AEG”, Nuremberg, Germany

Kavadarci, Stip, Prilep

2012 Skopje, National Gallery, Mala Stanica, Simon Shemov and Hans Herpich

2013 Matica Exclusive, Skopje

2023 National Gallery of Macedonia, Skopje, Daut Pasin Amam, “From Singularity to the Universe”


Group Exhibitions

Simon Shemov has taken part in more than 230 group exhibitions in almost all prominent art centres in the world, on all continents.


He lives and works in Skopje.





1959 – 1964, Studies at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Belgrade

Figurative orientation – during this time, he mainly works on self-portraits, reproductions and reinterpretations of former masters, such as “Ladies in waiting” by Velázquez, “Luncheon on the grass” by Monet, and many other works. He draws great inspiration from fresco painting and icons from Byzantine painting on Macedonian territory.


1964 – 1967, Early post-academic period

During this time, he produced drawings and paintings of pastoral themes, emphasising summer time, long hot summers, bare hills, thorns, tortoises, swarms of insects.

Together with Petar Mazev, he took part in creating the monumental painting “Man, fire, iron”.


1967 – 1969, Drawings as primary interest; pantheism becomes an important “religion”

Drawing is his main interest during this time, frequently created with ink, combined with tempera. He was inspired by Japanese art. In his painting thematic, there is an overwhelming theme of pantheism as solidarity between man and nature. He perpetuates the theme of long hot summers – “The Dream of the Stone”, “Oovo smoker”, “Windy sky”, “Overripe fruits from Nerezi”, “Vineyard sprinkler” (only one painting depicts a cold, rainy mountain mood – “Dew drops on the grass and moss”). He begins to take interest in topics and issues pertaining to the city – “Asphalt Paving Machine”, “Vagrant”, “Second-hand Buyer”, “Umbrella Mender”, “Gypsy Woman” etc. He is especially interested in the social aspect of everyday street life.


1969 – 1970, Parody painting

There are several works which reflect Shemov’s approach to painting in manner of parody. “O Sole Mio” can be interpreted as a clash between the artist and kitsch. “St. George and the Dragon” can be seen as a demystification of the acquired conservative and idyllic religious stance towards our fresco painting, with the tendency to bring this artistic direction closer to contemporary tendencies.


1970 – 1985, Dominance of play

This is his long-term work on the cycle “Child’s play” that includes drawings, collages, graphics and paintings. Shemov likens painting to play. It is, similar to child’s play, a game or play with certain rules that is most satisfactory and excludes the gain acquired in its performance. Since 1971, (during his stay in London), he began practicing the graphic technique of screen printing with the pieces titles “Dodola“, “Self-portrait”, “Children Running Across the River”.


1973, Art interventions (independent, group, with Nikola Fidanovski)

Simon Shemov, together with his colleague Nikola Fidanovski, began practicing art interventions on Mount Lokuv. The tendency to intervene with colour on old and degraded works and beatify the unsightly is quite perceptible in these interventions. They have managed to reincarnate unappealing and tragic works and bring them back to “life”; they succeeded in restore the aesthetic significance.

The interventions included: happening, land art, body art.
– Happening on the grounds of Petar Mazev’s studio (first happening in Macedonia), 1973.

– Land art – “Spatial impact of colours”, “Vodno” (an independent action with a group of students), 1985.
– “Stripes Colour Palette”, MoCA, Skopje (together with N. Fidanovski), 1985.
– “The Great Mother”, Mihajlovo, on Mount Kozuv (independent action), 2010.

– “Perun” and “The Great Mother”, on the Balcony of MoCA, Skopje, 2016.

– Body Art, at the Youth Centre “25 May” – Skopje, together with N. Fidanovski, 1984.

– Art intervention “Blossoming Boulevard” – interventions with coloured objects on stems along the JNA boulevard. This was a self-initiated action before New Year’s, regardless of the order issued by the mayor to save money. Subsequently, the installation was destroyed the very same day and the artists were called upon to take responsibility for their actions.


1974/75, Interest in polyptychs/vitrines

He began creating polyptychs – “vitrines”, inspired by the Old Bazaar in Skopje, for which he uses different i.e. six contrasting artistic segments. This polyptych is partially inspired by the pop art movement.


1982, Conceptual parody events

He began organising and self-funding a campus equipped with tents to accommodate students and other participants in the art interventions, just outside the Museum of Contemporary Art in Skopje. The opening of these implemented interventions was complemented with a publicly announced fictional opening (awards for the most extravagantly dressed guests, swimming in a pool filled with paint, etc.). This announcement with a fictitious content was a reaction to the conventional premieres and openings where the cocktail party was more appealing than the exhibited pieces.


1984, Interventions

– “In honour of Rembrandt”, an art intervention at the butchers “Bace” in Skopje (one of the reactions to the absolute authority and inviolable of the state exhibition institutions).
– Art interventions on the flyover armatures to Daut Pasin Amam, as a reaction to the urbanism of Skopje and disregard of ecological elements at the location.

– Implemented art interventions at the Youth Centre “25 May”, where the first body art project (live sculpture) in Macedonia was exhibited at the opening.

– Cellulose medium, or creating pieces using handmade cellulose fibre of plant origin.

– Design of pieces made of paper and dry herbs picked from meadows – “small wonders of the meadow”, etc. Using this technique and practice, he managed to combine his hobbies like hiking, studying and collecting medicinal herbs, herbs used for tea and in food with his artistic expression. Thus, nature is directly infused in his objects, be it branches, grass, flowers in all their colourful glory or the most authentically palpable aroma of dried flowers of thyme, yarrow etc. Consequently, he added another component to fine arts (he adds the sense of smell in his art work), which until then, very few artists had used that element.


1985 – 1987, Handmade paper pieces with ritualistic and magic

The cycle “Sorceries”, “Meadows”, “Angels” – pieces created using cellulose (handmade), dry stem branches embedded with flowers and other plant embellishments in the cellulose itself. The theme of magic or sorceries was inspired by the Macedonian folk artistry, folk stories, secret sayings, putting red and white bracelets in celebration of the month March under the pillow (Martenicka), barring the holding of mirrors at night etc. Shemov had chosen white magic to make wishes come true, for positive prophesies, spells with a welcome undertone.


1987, Organising Art Colony

He organised an Art Colony with the use of industrial cellulose at the “Komuna” factory in Skopje, in order to affirm the use of cellulose as medium.


1988 – 2023, Theme “The Sun”

The theme of the “Sun” is continuously visible throughout Shemov’s opus. He has observed that the symbol of the sun is depicted on flags of many countries, and throughout history, in almost every pagan religion, the sun was identified with a deity. Ultimately, the sun for all of us means life, and hence the fascination with its meaning and archetypal representation. There are mystical symbols and letters combined in the sun archetype and symbol, grounded images of stars and cosmic light sources borrowed from old folk tales.



1991 – 2011, Cycle “Woman”

The cycle “Woman” is based on Macedonian folklore – a beautiful girl, a bride in all her embellished bridal dresses, a mother, but also on the pagan traditions (The Great Mother).

1997, “Female Trinity” – triptych of women dressed in Macedonian bridal dresses. The portal above them, with byzantine columns (borrowed from the church St. Panteleimon in the village of Nerezi, near Skopje), marks an elevation of the feminine principle, that which has always been celebrated on the Macedonian soil, since prehistoric times with the terracottas of the Great Mother.



1999, “Eclipse of the Sun”

This piece, created during the Galicnik Art Colony marks the beginning of Shemov’s intense interest in cosmology, which hasn’t ceased to this very day.


2005 – 2009, “Perun”

“Perun” as an interest in the Macedonian pagan tradition.


1996/97, “The Great Woman – a woman from Galicnik”

He completed the painting with an intense colourful strokes “The Great Woman – a woman from Galicnik”, inspired by his first visit to Galicnik in 1960, the hot summer, the shagpile blankets, typical verandas and the young women sitting on the verandas.


2002/2003, Sacred Forest”

“Sacred Forest” is an ambient exhibit, consisting of a multitude of suspended stems, lit on the inside. The stems are formed from handmade paper. In some ancient traditions, a suspended tree, free from the root on the ground is considered as a symbol of a righteous man. The age of some trees is many times higher than that of humans. Shemov has noted the following about the possible loquaciousness of trees “…that old tree has seen many things through the ages. The lushness of its crown cradled only by the sun, layering mysterious traces, tales of time which are beyond our comprehension; tales about a different parallel reality”.


2003, “Eating paper”

A parody installation made of 36 forms with varying dimensions. The formats are constructed from classic, manually formed paper and pressed fruit and vegetables as symbols of the sun from different places, various eras and religions. The portraits that are eating paper and symbols and cooking minimise the grandeur of the symbols that (atop a flag, sword or shield) were carried during military campaigns and conquests. For Shemov, they are earthly suns not seeking divinity, but are simply searching for food in a vicious and cruel manner.


2004 – 2012, He worked on the themes “Perun”, “The Great Mother”, “Woman”, “Letter”, “Macedonian Sun”, the polyptych “Ohrid”, “The angel of Ohrid”, “The Sun of Plaosnik”, “Lightening Strike” and motifs pertaining to cosmology – “Magnetic Storm”, “Cosmic Radiation”, “The Great Cosmic Explosion”.


2012 – 2023, He worked on the themes “Pantheist”, “Angel Galaxy”, Multiverse”, “The Big Bang”, “Dark Energy”, “Archetype of life” etc.

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