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.

Curious Yellow

DSC_2780-650

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.

Olive Grove #2 2013

Olive-Grove #2, 2013

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?

On the very first day of each 6 meeting workshop, we discover the joys of unexpected color combinations, and the hidden beauty of ‘ugly” colors, when used in tandem with just the right neighbors. Muds can be such an elixir of life or fascination. Here, muds and grays add to the strangeness of the olive grove, and raise visual questions for the viewer.

By the second lesson, we are already investigated working in layers. What happens when color upon color are built up, leaving little glimpses to the shade partly hidden below?

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.

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.

And I Saw a Cypress | ואני ראיתי ברוש

Cypress - gouache painting by @Chanan Mazal 2014

And I saw a cypress tree, standing firm in a field. Facing the sun, hot desert winds and frost. Facing off the storm.

The cypress had doubled over, and bowed down to the weeds, without breaking.
And now, that cypress stands up straight up facing the sea, and is still green and towering….

If only I could learn the path of that single tree….

From the upbeat song Brosh / Cypress. Lyrics by Ehud Manor, melody Ariel Zilber.

This happy song ends however with self doubt,
And I am like an infant, broken and incapable. Unable to stand firm, facing the sun, the desert winds and frost. Unable to face the storm. La la la.

Cypress - painting by Chanan Mazal ©2014  Jerusalem

This series reflects the battle between my hidden, wild and naughty exuberance, and my mask of decorum. While painting, I felt as if my own, real life value conflicts, were right at the surface. I enhanced my true confusion, by repeatedly reversing the sense of order and disorder, and of positive and negative images within each painting.

Cypress - gouache painting by Chanan Mazal ©2014 Jerusalem

Tall cypress trees and falling leaves or else tall ladders appear in all paintings. Are they connecting Heaven and Earth? Or perhaps connecting body and soul? Balancing freedom with obligation? Symbols of mortality and the afterlife? Self-discipline and commitment?

Whatever. 

חשבון נפש

Cypress-Gouache painting by Chanan Mazal ©2014 Jerusalem

16 Works in gouache over pencil, pastel and ink, on clay coated wooden panels. 30×30 30×40 and 40×50 cm. Painted in spring and summer 2014.



Before he left us so young, I drank coffee next to the lyricist Ehud Manor and his family in the airport. Several travelers complemented the shy celeb, and interrupting their breakfast.

A cleaning woman, a gold toothed immigrant from Soviet Georgia speaking very broken Hebrew, simply looked for a kind face. She found an unwanted ticket entitling passengers to a free Hebrew language newspaper. From all of the dozens of people around, she chose to ask Ehud to collect one from the news stand, somehow explaining that she wanted her children to practice reading Hebrew.

She sensed correctly whom to pick. Ehud left his coffee, and brought it to her with his modest smile.

Tablecloth #6, 2014

Tablecloth #6, 2014. Gouache painting by Chanan Mazal, Jerusalem.  חנן מזל
מפה #6, 2014 ציור גואש 46 * 61 ס”מ
Autumn colors – though actually the palette was concocted by a self challange: I had several dried tubes of paint. Being of Polish Jewish origin, I must have inherited an ancestral fear of poverty, and aversion to waste. So I sliced open many of those hardened tubs, and crumbled the pigments into water. (Now this is NOT what artists should be publishing to promote their work!) And then asked myself, “What can you DO with this mess?
There is nothing that I enjoy more than finding beauty in a mess. Making harmony out of cacophony. Finding my directions on Paris’ confusing streets, without a map.