Selected Works

Lea Nikel was born in 1918 in Ukraine.

Nikel immigrated to Israel in 1920. She grew up mainly in Tel Aviv and at the age of sixteen began studying painting with Haim Gliksberg. In 1946 she enrolled The Studio, established by Yehezkel Streichman and Avigdor Stematsky.

Nikel left for Paris in 1950 and stayed there until 1961. 1954 was a turning point in her artistic development. In the wake of influences such as Fautrier, Jean Dubuffet, Jackson Pollock and Arshile Gorky, Nikel began doing Non-Objective paintings, in the style of Abstract Expressionism and of Tachisme.

Since 1954, Nikel had exhibited her works in various solo shows in Israel and Europe.
In 1961 Nikel returned to Israel and participated in an exhibition at the Bezalel National Museum and at the old Tel Aviv Museum in Dizengoff House. In 1964, together with Arie Aroch and Igael Tumarkin, she represented Israel at the Venice Biennale. But she soon left Israel again and in the years 1963–1964 lived in New York. In 1967, after the Six Day War, she moved to Rome, where she began painting on large canvases.

In 1973 Nikel exhibited at the Tel Aviv Museum, in the Helena Rubinstein Pavilion. The exhibition earned her general appreciation as a painter of indisputable importance. In 1973, after the Yom Kippur War, she returned to New York and stayed there for about four years, exhibiting all over the United States. There, Nikel began painting in water-based acrylic and using letters in script and in words, as well as works influenced by Zen Buddhism.

Nikel continued to be a prolific artist, exhibiting frequently in galleries and museums. In 1995 a retrospective of her work was held at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and in the same year she was awarded the Israel Prize. In 2001 she exhibited works on paper at The Open Museum at the Industrial Park in Omer.

Continuing to work to the very last, Nikel died of cancer in 2005.