Needlework is tightly woven into Batia Shani’s painting; two years of schooling at the London Royal School of Needlework provided the springboard for Shani to embrace this traditional craft. The repetitive, orderly labor of embroidery based on dexterity, the extreme attention to demanding traditional techniques, and the essence of needlepoint to weave details into a greater composition may not be noticed in Shani’s work at first glance, but a second look exposes embroidery as the infrastructure and the inspiration forming the foundation of her art.During the five years following her London school period, Shani concentrated on embroidery and knitting. It is during this period, that we see a general shift in Shani’s style-she abandoned the well-organized traditional rules of needlecraft for a much wider and independent working style. Shani combined methods from embroidery and fiber-art to invent a personal form of creating “surface-art”. The silk in her new pieces formed not only a base-surface on which to embroider, but also a material to interact with. Shani created abstract, three-dimensional works which employ the same techniques of needlework, only to contrast their original conservative design.

Thus her transition from silk to canvas was short lived. From the moment Shani turned to painting she immersed herself in this new creative channel, making it at once her focal point and vocation.

Although Batia Shani left her needles behind, her painting still contains many of the qualities and textures she absorbed as an embroidery maker, and in many compositions we can almost feel the rhythm of warp and woof. Her colorful work is always intuitive; Shani works without any plans or sketches, and each painting contains several layers. Each layer is dominated by a single color, a single texture, and one repetitive image. Shani uses drippings, brush strokes, and engravings to portray inner and outer landscapes and to individualize each layer from the other. Through this multi-tier process, where each layer covers the former and breaks its pattern, Shani brings an unpredictable element to the composition. Using this technique, similar to the ones used by artists versed in the traditions of embroidery, Shani composes a corpus, built from many fragments to form a new complex unit. The works create a mellow dialog between the premeditated act of layering and its unpredictable results, between every expressive gesture and the well-ordered final grids.The paintings present a center-less array and allow the spectator to observe it from different vantage points, and connect Shani’s work to decorative and ritual art while promoting a new non-hierarchical concept of art making.