Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Ahavat Yisrael (the love of Israel)

Ahavat Yisrael (the love of Israel)

During my tenure as the Artist in Residence at the House of Dona Gracia I spent hours researching old photographs of Tiberias. I was very attracted to these documents which portrayed not only a disappearing face of Israel, but also the fledgling medium of photography itself. 

I had a history of intense involvement with interpreting landmark photos – particularly the groundbreaking work of Jacob Riis. I knew that my reworking of the “Bandit’s Roost” photo was among my strongest work to date. I was keen to transfer that experience to these old photos of a bygone era, the early twentieth century aliyah. 

I had already begun working with photographs in my more recent Tiberias paintings – finding it much more fulfilling creatively to use the photos as source material. The second step of the process was mare intuitive as my imagination and experience provideed the colors which made the paintings live.

I discovered a cache of photos dating from the beginnings of both the medium of photography and the earliest resettlements of Israel. There were photographs of nearly every corner of Israel, the new immigrants toiling at the foundations of the Land. I began to wonder if I might be able to use these photos as a sort of springboard from which I might set out my own visions of Israel. I was struck by the courage and dedication evident in the people drawn to this often troubled land. I wanted my paintings to convey the love and the cleaving to the land that these early settlers embodied -- the ideal that the Land of Israel completes the Jew. I hoped that I might breathe life into these dusty old documents -- to bring a sparkle to the eyes of these not so distant denizens. Several years ago I longed to create a sacred art. It gratified me greatly to have at last found a way to express something of my own Ahavat Yisrael.

Spring of Ein Farah, 1920

Safed c. 1900

Picking Oranges in Jaffa, 1915

Old Synagogue of Meron, 1899

Migdal, 1920

Jewish Pioneers(Gedera), 1910

Hotsprings at Tiberias, with Rebbi Meir, 1893

Hevron, The Jewish Quarter, 1921

Herd of Water-Buffalo, 1925

Fountain of Gideon, 1890

Fishermen at Tiberias, 1895

Ain Shemesh, 1895

Camel Caravan, 1912

Camels Crossing the Jordan, 1913

Flour Mill Near Hula Lake, 1894       

Rachel's Tomb, 1900
Livestock at Degania, 1912