Ira Upin, a 75-year-old artist, originally hails from Chicago but has called Philadelphia home since 1973. With a BFA in painting from the University of Illinois and an MFA from the Maryland Institute Hoffberger School of Painting, Ira's artistic journey has been adorned with numerous accolades. Throughout his over 50-year career, he has been honored with prestigious awards such as the Tiffany Foundation Fellowship, the Walters Museum European Travel Grant, and the Kate Kinley Memorial Fellowship. His exceptional talent and dedication to his craft have earned him recognition in the art world, with his work showcased in galleries across the United States and Europe. His captivating pieces can be found in private, corporate, and museum collections.
When discussing his views on the art world, Ira shared his appreciation for transformative, authentic art capable of transporting viewers to uncharted territories of experience. However, he expresses distaste for the mercenary aspects and false hype that often permeate the art world. While art holds an indispensable place in our lives by bringing joy, expanding our senses and minds, and embracing our humanity, Ira laments the distortions that arise when the monetary value becomes the primary measure of worth. The commodification of art diminishes its purity, creating a challenging dichotomy within the art world that Ira grapples with.
While Ira has spent over five decades creating hyper-realistic narrative paintings in oil, he has recently delved into digital art, bringing about a revelatory experience. The ability to manipulate and transform images with a simple keyboard click gave him a sense of liberation. Despite his earlier career never envisioning the possibilities of his submitted works for the current show, he finds inspiration in the technology available today, which allows him to create unexpected and tethered transformations from photographic beginnings.