Gouache 35 x 51 cm
A small secret: I gave a color challenge to a new student, to create a colorful painting using just black and three different yellow. The goals were to explore the oxymoron of ”dark yellow”, and how so very much, can be expressed with so few resources.
I always begin teaching with that yellow challenge.then I did it myself. And made a very colorful , pretty work that did not satisfy me at all.
The day after the massacre in Pittsburg, I sat in my studio, struggling to focus on work.
Towards the end of the day, I pulled out this painting. In a fit of urgency, I painted myself over the pattern, first by scrubbing dirty water, then paint. First by memory, then with a mirror.
As always, my selfies contain some brutal honesty. We all need brutal introspection, as individuals, as collectives and as ideological camps.
But what I also discovered, was a way to combine seemingly conflicting art languages that appeal to me: Ornament and Expressionism.
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.
I am honored to participate in this years Jerusalem Biennale – in the group show “A Sense of Space, A Sense of Place, curated by my talented colleague Mallory Serebrin. The show is in a unique location – a century old Armenian villa, that served for half a century as a school for deaf children. The exterior is magnificent. The interior – reminds me of my artwork! The work is a polydych, of four panels, called “Common Cypress”, the botanical name of the Mediterranean cypress. In Hebrew – ברוש מצוי Each panel is named buy a line from a song of the Israeli cannon, revealing a strong connection to this unique place.
בחמסין בקרה – מ”ברוש” של אהוד מנור ואריאל זילבר
באב אל ואד – מילים חיים גורי
נומה עמק ראץ תפארת מ”שיר העמק, מילים נתן אלטרמן
מארץ מרחקים מ”אל הציפור” מילים חיים נחמן ביאליק
Images from the Gallery Talk
Cypress Trees in Late Summer Fields 2015
Gouache over mixed media, on a koalin coated panel. 41 x 66 cm.
ברושים בשדות סוף הקיץ 2015
גואש מעל מדיות מעורבות, על לוחות המצופות בחימר לבן. 46 5* 66 ס”מ
Yellow is a tricky color. It is easy to paint monochromatic works in all greens, blues or reds. One simply mixes in small amounts of other colors to gain a wide pallet, of varying depths and intensities and pureness. There are also many and so very different pigments in those families to start from. Yet, after all of that messing and punching and kneading, these colors easily remain what we consider to be the families of greens, blues and reds.
Yellows are so much more sensitive! How do we create a “dark yellow”? After adding what miniscule amount of another color, does the “yellow” stop being yellow? Very little!
So, how much must I stray away from that Crayola crayon definition of Yellow, to create a vibrant painting, with sufficient contrasts?
Those of us living with our bone dry summers are familiar with this pallet. The wild grass turns to dusty yellow. The red roofs and dark cypresses are coated with fine yellow gray loess soil, carried in from the Sahara and Syrian Desert.
Yet our summer is not merely sun burnt. Delicacy can be found in the dried thistles. The rhythmic curvatures of the rolling hills and terraces reveal themselves. The sun casts yellow, and shadows in the hills reveal a lavender hue.
מטע זיתים #2 2013, גואש
Gouache 36 x 51
I pulled this out of my drawing cabinet, to show various brush and layering techniques to the students in my Diving into Color workshop. And then decided that it merits scanning. Not bad, huh?
Aah. I would love to teach a week long workshop in a vacation setting. Maybe in some old European farm. I get as much pleasure from seeing students eyes light up and think, “I CREATED THAT???!!!” as I get from painting myself.
Gouache, 36 x 51 cm, 2011 or 2012.
These words from the song by David Shimoni, became the anthem of the “Illegal Immigration” during and after the Holocaust.
115,000 refugees boarded “floating coffins” or made long treks by foot, in a clandestine effort to break the blockade set up by the British, in violation of the Mandate given to them by the League of Nations.
ואף על פי כן ולמרות הכל,
וכל עוד דופק בעולם
וכל עוד נשמע בעולם
את ארץ, ארץ, ארץ ישראל.
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.
1780-85 בית הכנסת המיותם בלומניץ, צכיה
בציור הראשון וישן יותר – ממוקם בגלות האירופאי. בשני – בשיבת ציון. מה שנשאר בעיירה – היא רק בית הקברות היהודי. בית הכנסת עבר שיפוץ, ומשמש למרכז תרבות
In the first, older painting from 2012, I placed the synagogue in the gray European exile. In the second painting from 2014 it is surrounded the Mediterranean fruit trees and sun of home.
Bohemia and Moravia once had the densest Jewish population in Europe. Jews were prohibited from living in the same municipality as Christians, and separate Jewish towns and villages were created, usually cordoned off by a stream or wall.
Other than Prague, which also had its own famous parallel Jewish town, Jews were not allowed to live in or near any other cities.
Discrimination reached a new peak under the Austrian Empress Maria Theresa. “Familiant” laws were introduced, restricting the number of Jewish households in each locality, and in the country as a whole. Accordingly, only one son per family was permitted to marry. Any secret “attic” weddings among younger siblings were unrecognized and illegal. Their children were considered to be illegitimate, and forced to emigrate at age 14. The mothers were sent to forced road construction as punishment for “wanton” behavior.
The Jewish population froze, and was forced to remained scattered in a vast number of tiny communities. Their physical reminders can still be found today in almost every townlet in the country.- such as this synagogue building. During the 19th century, these residence restrictions were gradually lifted. Most Jews moved to the cities. Many rural synagogues closed.
By the 1930s only 30 Jews were left in the Lomnice. The last sign of Jewish life is in a grave, from shortly before their deportation to Terezin, and onwards to death.
Jewish cemeteries were mandated to be built “over the hill” and out of the sight from Christian homes. The beautiful cemetery dating from the 17th century is well preserved, as are many old homes in the ghetto. The synagogue was used as a warehouse, but has been restored, and now serves as a cultural center and wedding venue.