Making Sense of it All

Making Sense of it All Chanan Mazal @2017

Oil on canvas, 100 x 110 cm

כי האדם עץ השדה? דברים כ:יט
For is the tree of the field a man? Deuteronomy 20:19.

Using trees to portray human soul and destiny, is as old as art and psychology itself.

I choose particular species and shapes to symbolize my state of mind or big life questions. Trees may be steady or rebellious, wise or impetuous. mature or potential, spiritual or carnal, and Hebrew or universal.

Why this particular childlike tree shape?

Its fluffy, cloud like foliage sits top-heavy, upon the slender trunk with its graceful Gothic slouch. Well, that upper part obviously is about my/our air filled thoughts:
Head in the clouds. Spirituality for the masses. Fuzzy thinking.
All of that air sits upon a delicate, flexible trunk of decisiveness and actions.

I completed the painting while listening to online lectures about the psychological symbolism of Genesis. Symbols like The Creator carving meaning out of the primordial chaos and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil – teach us so much about creating sense in our personal life path.

Those green serpentines of confusion and attention deficiency, were painted before listening to the lectures. After completion, visitors to my studio shouted, “Ah! That’s the serpent tempting Eve to eat from the fruit of self knowledge.”
Smart visitors.

Trente Triangles, 2017

Trente Triangles 2017, ©2017 Chanan Mazal, Jerusalem

Thirty Triangles. Gouache, 46 x 61 cm. (18″ x 24″)
שלושים משולשים, 2017. גואש 46 * 61
Inspired by the “Crazy Quilts” traditionally made by African American women.
The composition, with its two, not quite balanced halves and with arrows pointing all over, defies all logic. But it works.

Lost My Marbles

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Still Life with Marbles, 2017. Gouache on paper, 46 x 61 cm.

Once again, I revisited an old old theme, with new knowledge about colors.

What? More Cypresses?

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The Tempest #2, 2017. Gouache on Claybord. 46 x 91.5 cm.

Cypresses 2017. gouache on Claybord Like the work posted last week, I painted this many months ago, but wasn’t sure if I was satisfied. I reworked both paintings last week.

Something about the relative emptiness of the center, and stronger contrasts to the far left and right, spoke to me. I am not sure of what my point was… something about not looking for significance where it is “supposed to be”?

Or that there can be competing ideas of significance? With neither winning the arm wrestle?

Natural Forest

Natural Forest #1, by Chanan Mazal, Jerusalem

Natural Forest #1, 2016
Gouache on paper, 46 x 61 cm. Sold

חורש טבעי #1, 2016
גואש על נייר, 46 * 61. נמכר

Israel’s natural forest is low, small trees, with small hard leaves. We have none of the towering straight lines of the wet north. Like everything else here, our trees like complex multiple trunks. That is, other than the planted forests of the JNF, with their imported pines standing in even spaced rows.

When we were still engaged, hiked in the mountains of the Western Galilee. The path climbed down a steep ravine with one of the healthiest natural woodlands in the country. I was enthralled by the deep damp shade and barely passable maze of the oak trunks. There, near the ground, I found coolness on that oven hot day.

Sloshing through the Bezet stream, we crossed paths with an older gentleman, wearing a suit and tie, feathered fedora and wet rolled up trousers.

“Did you see that “Yekke” hiking a suit? I asked.”
“Ah, he is a relative.”

I often paint trees. If all paintings are actually self portraits, than one of trees is even more so. In this series, I am not investigating the solitary tree trunk, but rather trees as a part of an ecology. I am investigating man as defined and enriched by the surrounding landscape of his life choices.

Painted from memory of that hike.

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Natural Forest #2, 2016
Gouache on paper, 46 x 61 cm.

חורש טבעי #2
גואש על נייר, 46 * 61

Bab el Wad, 2015 באב אל וואד

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Gouache and multimedia on panels, 46 x 96.5 cm

Bab el Wad in Arabic, Shaar Hagai in Hebrew, the Gate of the Ravine was a battle site during the siege of Jerusalem in 1948.
The sole road connecting the Jewish majority in Jerusalem was cut off here, as it winded up the mountains. The water supply was cut as well, both at the Yarkon springs, and at pumping station within the ravine.

My in-laws met at ages 5 and 8, while waiting on line for their water ration, during on of the pauses in shelling. She was living in her home. He was staying with relatives across the street.

His apartment building was bombed, and the Jordanian army had reached their courtyard. His first grade teacher was on the roof, with a sten gun, and pinned the Jordanians down, to allow the residents to flee in their pajamas, across a rocky field.

The one and half lane road from 1948, is now being widened again, to 6 lanes. So once again we are under siege, from the construction crews.

Horror Vacui

Horror Vacui @2015 Chanan Mazal, Jerusalem

Horror Vacui – פחד מן הריק
In visual art, horror vacui (/ˈhɔrər ˈvɑːkjuːaɪ/; from Latin “fear of empty space”), also kenophobia, from Greek “fear of the empty”), is the filling of the entire surface of a space or an artwork with detail.

Gouache, 46 x 61, Dec 2015