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.

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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.

My Work at the Jerusalem Biennale 2015

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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.

Brosh-Matzui-A2000

Hamsin

בחמסין בקרה – מ”ברוש” של אהוד מנור ואריאל זילבר

Bab-el-Wad900

באב אל ואד – מילים חיים גורי

Numa-Eretz900

נומה עמק ראץ תפארת מ”שיר העמק, מילים נתן אלטרמן

Me-eretz-Merhakim900

מארץ מרחקים מ”אל הציפור” מילים חיים נחמן ביאליק

Images from the Gallery Talk

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Studio Espionage

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A peek at my painting process. Early May, 2013.
Pencil and ink, then gouache, on 3 “Claybord” panels. (Wood, coated with white clay.) 30 x 135 cm.

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.

The Orphaned Synagogue in Lomnice, Czech Rep. Built 1780-85

Synagogue in Lomnice.

 1780-85 בית הכנסת המיותם בלומניץ, צכיה

בציור הראשון וישן יותרממוקם בגלות האירופאי. בשניבשיבת ציון. מה שנשאר בעיירההיא 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.

בית הכנסת בלומניץ 2014 ציור חנן מזל ירושלים

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.

Competing with the Bedspread?

Bronx Oranges by Chanan Mazal

.Bronx Oranges, 2012. Gouache on paper 46 x 61. Available

This is an old favorite of mine. My grandmother saved a bag of housecoats sewn for her by my grandfather, in Art Deco fabrics. It is funny how inspirations are stored in our memory.
I know that interior designers tend to select artwork, that won’t compete for attention with their more profitable choices of floor coverings and bedspreads… but this would be lovely in some countryside boutique hotel