Inner Tempest

The Tempest #1, Painting by Chanan Mazal, Jerusalem 2017

The Tempest #1, 2017. Gouache on Claybord. 46 x 91.5 cm.

Good friends with good eyes are important. I painted this pair a year ago (the work on the previous post as well). But something prevented me from showing them.

I had wanted to capture the contrast between the interior tempest that I/we often feel, and the cultured, refined and well tempered face that we present to the world. Both facades are truly representative. Neither lie. My goal was to allow them to live together, on this board.

A few weeks ago I invited my art teacher and friend Orna Milo, to the studio. She recommended that I stop listening to other noises focus on that story. After a mere half hour of eliminated extraneous sounds, the pair were completed.


What? More Cypresses?


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.


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

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.

Two Persian Flasks, 2014

2-Persian-Flasks 2014, Chanan Mazal

Gouache 46 x 61 cm

With all of the confusion and conflagrations, in our Middle Eastern neighborhood, and all of the duplicity and duplications of social media – I seem to have forgotten to post this painting on my blog.

פורים שמח! ויהפוכו כל הלהבות, למדורות לאפיית תפוחי אדמה עטופים בנייר כסף.

Nine Persian Flasks, February 2015

.9 Persian-Flasks, 2015 by Chanan Mazal

תשעה בקבוקים פרסיים, פרואר 2015, גואש, 46 * 61 ס”מ

Gouache 46 x 61 cm.

I keep on finding new ways to approach the challenge of turning a lovely mess, into a non-functioning painting, and then to restore its dignity and intellect.
If only the real world was this simple.

כל פעם אני מוציא מסלול חדש  בדרך לאתגר: להפוך בלאגן חינני ויפהפה, לציור לא מתפקד. ואז להחזיר לציור הנכשל את הכבוד, עצילות ותבונה
הלוואי שהיה כל כך פשוט לעשות כך העולם האמת

8 Persian Flasks, Feb 2015. Gouache and Ink, 46 x 61 cm

8 בקבוקים פרסיים, ציור של חנן מזל ירושלים

8 Persian Flasks, Feb 2015.  Gouache and ink on paper, 46 x 61 cm
שמונה בקבוקים פרסיים, פברואר 2015ץ גואש ודיו על נייר 46 * 61 ס”מ

One more in the series, this one being particularly challenging.

I often tell my students that simplicity is important: When challenging the viewer with something confusing, they must limit additional stimuli.
The way that Braque and Picasso used restricted, neutral palettes for their Cubist still lives.
And as in cooking: Best not to use every spice in the kitchen, in each dish. Choose your direction, and emphasize it alone.

Good advice that I chose not to follow.
I did not to practice what I preach, in order to stretch my abilities to a new limit. I wanted to see how much chaos can still be contained in a viable composition and in a pretty, pleasant painting.