Writer, Artist, Designer
The Art Space, Tel Aviv, February-March 2023
Observing Lucas van Leyden's "Judgment Day" painting in these very days of natural disasters, the Russian-Ukraine war, the global pandemic and unrest, images created while dialoguing with the artist came to my mind.
Like some typical Instagram narcissist, I armed myself with a cellphone and started taking my own picture against the backdrop of the lowest bottom of Hell and the clouds of Heaven. I posed in front of more-or-less apocalyptic scenes, documenting human, angelic, and satanic disasters as if to prove to myself that I was there indeed.
This is a social-artistic satire of mankind which, though in the age of social networks, still attempts to dialogue with eternity, and with our primordial fears, desires, and hates.
The paintings and the digital works were created along with a video-art that I made, which participated as an official selection at the Amsterdam Short Film Festival 2022, and the TLVFest 2022 in Tel Aviv.
The Artist as an Evangelist, a Storyteller, a Gospel Bearer
Sacred tales, myths, and evangelists with their religious messages often inspire literary, plastic, and even political creativity. In Christianity, inspiration started with the four evangelists of the New Testament (and many others whose tales did not make the official canon), who heralded the new tale of an extraordinary and divine occurrence with all of its manifestations. Some artists chose to leave out things that other accentuate. Some created music-like variations, trying to infuse the tales with emotion or rationale; while others wanted to make the older stories tighter – seeking precision or developing and formulating prequels.
This, in a nutshell, is the history of Christianity and of Western culture and art (at least works that depict the life of Jesus and subsequent works of faith) – the history of Christian tales and icons. Of course, icons existed before the emergence of Christianity, but once the Jesus/Evangelist Show started, it determined the hierarchy, the shape of icons, the scenes depicted, the story told and, I might add, the plastic emergence of shape.
Then started the relay race: One evangelist passed a story on to another; an artist passed a painting down to his successor, from the early Christian catacombs in Rome, via Duccio and Giotto, all the way to Michelangelo and Rembrandt. In the modern age, this relay race continues with artists' versions of earlier artworks (Picasso, who repainted Delacroix's Les Femmes d'Alger; Francis Bacon who painted a Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X; not to mention scenes such the Annunciation or Madonna with Child that had been painted for centuries). This, in fact, is how culture forms.
This is how I encountered Lucas van Leyden's monumental triptych known as The Last Judgement – a work that captured my heart and soul while the world was dealing with the covid pandemic. What first caught my eye in van Leyden's work was a hand of an angel placed on the buttock of some righteous man on his way to Heaven. There was something homoerotic about that gesture, which was out of place in this religious context. I have since studied the artist and his work like I was breathing fresh mountain air again. I painted my own versions of The Last Judgement while the world around me went mad with the pandemic, giant fires, huge floods, and what not.
There was nothing political about it. My decisions were more personal, emotional, sentimental, inspired. I sought a dialogue with van Leyden, his characters, and his palette. There I was, an inconsequential artist, admiring this great painter (I believe van Leyden's Judgement Day is far superior to Michelangelo's, for instance).