For many Israeli artists, transforming the splendor of Jerusalem into a modern
art form has been an absorbing passion. This Hol Hamoed Succot, five leading
artists will share their inspiring works with the public at a two-day Succot
Fair on the theme “Jerusalem in the Eyes of the Beholder – Contemporary Artists
Portray their Jerusalem,” sponsored by the Kol HaOt organization and the Inbal
The fair, to be held at the Jerusalem hotel’s ballroom on October
16 and 17, from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m., will feature the diverse interpretations of
Jerusalem by such internationally recognized artists as Maty Grünberg, Yoram
Raanan, David Moss, Archie Granot and Yitzhak Greenfield. The free fair will be
an opportunity for the public to meet the artists, and hear firsthand how they
intertwine traditional and modern Jewish themes into their art.
HaOt’s fairs emphasize direct interaction between artist and visitors. This way,
the public can both appreciate the art and its Jewish message more fully, be
enriched and educated, as well as develop an intimate relationship with
high-level, accomplished local artists and their artwork,” says Yair Medina, a
co-founder of Kol HaOt, Hebrew for “vision of the symbol.”
a particularly apt theme for a Succot fair, since one aspect of the holiday is
the pilgrimage of all nations to the city,” adds Rabbi Matt Berkowitz, another
Kol HaOt founder.
As David Moss whizzed through the city on his daily
bicycle route to his studio in Jerusalem’s Artists’ Lane, he began to realize
that this journey contained potent material for an artistic project. The result
is his colorful, graphic, map-like work, Cycling Through My Mind
limited-edition print evokes Jerusalem’s ancient and current landmarks, as well
as Moss’s personal history as he moves through space and time – through his own
neighborhood, and past an aqueduct from the Second Temple era, the sites of
recent terror attacks, monuments to peace, to name just a few of the 19 places
“It is not the sort of map I’d hand someone who needs to find
their way between two points,” he says. “It’s a psychic mapping of what goes on
in my head as I take this 10-minute ride through time, memories, musings and
For his work Jerusalem 1967-1990
, Grünberg collaborated with
the late Yehuda Amichai – whose poetry will be featured at the fair – to create
56 blackand- white woodcuts of the city. In this limited-edition portfolio, he
captures “an intricate puzzle” of Jerusalem’s landscape, its flora and fauna, as well as its ancient buildings and modern
“This city is solid with symbols that were created in it,
were lost in it, and were destroyed in it,” he says. “It is the animals that
inhabit the air and earth in and around Jerusalem that have survived throughout
its eras – a continuous lifeline throughout its long history.”
of Jerusalem are also the focus of Grünberg’s project The Tulip and the Thorn.
For inspiration, he wandered the botanical garden on Mount Scopus. He
captures Jerusalem’s daylight, dawn, twilight and night through the prism of the
eternal city’s diverse plants, which thrive despite the city’s annual seasons of
extreme heat and cold.
One afternoon, as paper-cut artist Granot sat in
an interminable Jerusalem traffic jam, he couldn’t help but notice the
distinctive pattern of a window in the Bukharan quarter. The window design was
to become the basis of his multi-layered Joy of Jerusalem
paper cut, which
incorporates a midrash that expresses the rejoicing that will envelop the city
when it is rebuilt.
“Jerusalem is one of the foundations of my work,”
says Granot, whose vibrant contemporary-style paper cuts are often based on
Jewish texts from the Bible, Talmud and midrash.
For Raanan, the Western
Wall has been both an inspiration and a challenge. In his paintings, he
transforms the craggy brown stones into lush-colored hues, imparting its
spiritual energy to the viewer.
“It’s a challenge to paint concrete
blocks of reality in an abstract modern and meaningful way,” he says. “I try to
capture the spiritual essence and bring light out of the hewn rock.
Wall’s stones have been witness to a lot of prayers and a lot of tears. I wanted
to do justice to the energy that has been poured into this place, and to the
self-sacrifice of the people who for millennia longed to be able to come here,”
His panorama of Jerusalem, done in soft, pastel-colored
shades, captures the dramatic southern slope of the Temple Mount and the walls
of the Old City.
Raanan recalls that when he painted this spectacular
view, he was not only focusing on light and shadow, color and movement, but was
also in touch with “the holiness of the place; the quiet majesty of the Temple
Mount and how the hills emanate a palpable spiritual energy.” To suggest the
heavenly Jerusalem, he employed his palette knife to scrape away paint, to convey a sense of the sky opening up to the celestial city.
covers and pages of discarded Jewish books, many of which relate to Jerusalem,
often provide the raw material for Greenfield’s collages, which depict the
timelessness of the eternal city. His Jerusalem Towers and Domes
fragments of classical Jewish texts, and his Vineyard of Solomon was created
with old Talmud volumes. “They form a kind of geniza [storehouse for ancient
texts] in themselves,” he notes.
“I try to use my artwork as a way to
transform the mundane into the holy,” says Greenfield, a native of Brooklyn, who
for years dreamed of living in Jerusalem.
Moss’s rendering of Jerusalem
in his acclaimed Moss Haggadah,
is imbued with a strong universal theme. He
depicts the gates to the city facing several directions, to welcome all peoples.
“Through her open gates, Jerusalem’s message goes out to all nations,” Moss
explains. “Jerusalem is the city of unity, whose destiny is ‘shalom’ –
wholeness, completeness and peace among all the nations of the
The Hebrew verse “Next year in a rebuilt Jerusalem,” which Moss
elegantly showcases in the piece, represents both a prayer and a promise. “We
ask God to show His hand once again in the destiny of our people; we declare our
eternal commitment to His holy city.”
The decorative micrography border
is made up of 70 biblical verses, each containing a different name or
appellation for Jerusalem. He chose the number 70, he says, to correspond to the
70 nations which, in Jewish tradition, represent all of mankind.
Succot Fair will be a feast for the other senses as well. Visitors will be able
to enjoy a collage of the city’s distinctive musical sounds and sites in a
screening of Thru Jerusalem
, by video artist Kutiman, an internationally
acclaimed musician and YouTube sensation.
Kutiman’s work has been
exhibited throughout the world, including at the Guggenheim Museum, and has been
described by Time
magazine as one of the most important inventions in the world
in 2009. For the short film, which was originally commissioned by the Jerusalem
Season of Culture, Kutiman visited local musicians, recording their diverse
sounds against the backdrop of Jerusalem’s captivating scenery. The two-day fair
will also showcase local actors, who will perform live storytelling performances
In the coming months, Kol HaOt will hold an evening
Jewish cabaret, scheduled to premier on Hanukka, and will open its Visual Beit
Midrash. There, the organization will conduct ongoing Jewish educational
programs, targeted at North American travelers in Israel. The programs
incorporate the magic of the arts in an effort to engage participants with
Jewish concepts, and include a hands-on interactive element. Also planned are
ongoing exhibits, artist circles and educator training.
“Like the Succot
Fair, these creative educational activities are an integral part of Kol HaOt’s
mission to utilize the arts as a way to convey and illuminate the meaning and
beauty of Jewish texts and ideas,” says Elyssa Moss Rabinowitz, who co-founded
More information about Kol HaOt can be found on the
organization’s web site: www.kolhaot.com.
The writer is director of marketing
at Kol HaOt – Interactive Jewish Educational Art Programs.