Baruch

Nachshon gallery slide

My use of symbolism has developed over time. I slowly came to appreciate that I was making repeated use of symbolic elements as a poet plays with new turns of phrase. One can find in my work frequent groupings of seven or eighteen (numerologically representative of life (or chai) in Hebrew) and twenty-six (corresponding to an important Divine Name). Drops of dew are conspicuous, as are tongues of flame, the Holy Temple, the City of Jerusalem, winged candles, tefillin and tzitzit. Also angels’ wings, ladders, musical instruments and – broadly speaking- connections between heaven and earth.

Baruch Nachshon

“Many generations already have passed, but the muse of painting in spiritual health has never attained its proper form- you will rectify this”.

The Rebbe’s final remarks to me were the following: “You have succeeded in representing the Jewish soul. You must understand that the body of the Jew, which has been chosen by the Almighty to perform His will, is sacred as well. For this reason you must begin to paint depictions of The Literal Meaning of our Sacred Texts.

 The Lubavitch Rebbe.

A few notes on my style of painting

Many have been confused by the stylistic tendency of my painting and struggled to define it. There have been those who have found in it a confusion of forms and characters, following style of the German artist Hieronymous Bosch. Others have discovered an Indian or Persian inflected color pallette or even abstraction of cursive lines after the fashion of ornamental Arabic script. Still others see psychedelic tendencies suggestive of the school of Salvador Dali. To all of these I answer: I paint, rather, under the influence of the Highest Providence. He brings before me the figures and leaves me only the task of committing them all to the canvas and completing the painting. On one occasion, as I prayed in Mearat Hamachpela, I saw with my mind’s eye a vision of the Heavens opening and a letter Yud peering from within. Ever since that day I have frequently employed this motif, in varying forms. Another related series of works was inspired by a Japanese professor with whom I had come into contact when he asked me to paint for him “the Angel Michael in meditation.” One dear friend, after competing a course of study in Chinese Medicine in China, brought me a long Chinese scroll. This inspired a compelling series of works that unfolded over significant length. Under similar circumstances my series of landscapes and my series inspired by the Book of Psalms found their genesis. I have always listened carefully to criticism, particularly that offered by individuals who have no understanding of the work or its context. This is the mode of true guidance for the artist, as a wise man once said: “love criticism for this will lift you to the desired heights.”

Gallery 1950/60

Guard the idea, before it passes and is gone

Draw it in schematic lines

Cut the canvas, establish the margins

Gaze on the empty page, see everything in it

Begin the work in the heart,

Feel the dimensions, the proportions

Preserve the perspective, envision the end of the work which is primary in thought

Begin from the first point, which is requesting benediction and mercy

then follow the internal command which guides

the brushes of the hand by means of the motive force,

put every item in its proper place

put on the first dabs of paint

Build harmony, rhythm, music

put soul in the material, behold creation as it comes into being

Something out of nothing enduring the pain of the knowledge of nothingness

When yet there is everything but nothing

there is no breath of life

To feel nothingness and beseech mercy

to receive salvation, to finish, to give thanks!

To gaze deep into the recesses of the new creation

into a new world which, this very instant, has been revealed

To behold the wonder of the visitors

to remain bowed in humility,

grateful that all has come about by the grace of the Almighty.

An excerpt from my journal, written about 20 years ago

Gallery 1960/70

One day, while praying at the Cave of Machpela, I saw with my mind’s eye a vision of the heavens opening, as from beyond the Hebrew letter Yud peeked down. Since that day I have returned many times to this motif and represented it in different ways.

Prayer

Many of those who view my works see in them a deep expression of prayer. The proper definition of the Hebrew word for prayer is: “connection, expression of the desires of the spirit of man as created being drawn to connect with his Creator.” King David wrote in his book of Psalms the expression “for I am a prayer,” as if to say that all that defines me as a person is the imperative to connect heaven and earth.  -from the artist’s journal

1980/90