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J-Art Conception of Jewish Fine Arts


Bless the Lord, O my Soul Psalms ( 103:1)
Art and Jewish tradition to me are two correlative forms that try to realize and reflect the meaning of human being. The meaning is forgotten when the system of thoughts, that raised it, is not acting on. The tradition is keeping on, but there is danger for it's going to be not intelligent ritual or transit to obsession. So, to my consideration, the fruitful approach in Jewish Fine Arts is the one in two - meaning and shape; ethics and principles of plastic language's organization.

Prohibition on Jewish Fine Arts
Can we talk about conception of Jewish Fine Arts if there is a prohibition on it from the Torah: Exodus (20:4): "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness, of any thing that is the heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth." (A Jewish Bible according to the Masoretic text, "Sinai" publishing, Tel-Aviv, Israel). When we translate this prohibition from Hebrew word by word we shall see: "Thou shalt not make unto thee graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above and in underground kingdom." Compare this sentence with story from Genesis (1:6-10): "And God said, let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it devide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and devided the waters, which were under the firmament from the waters, which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day. And God said, let the waters under the heaven are gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together waters called be seas." So, the wonderful picture springs up. There no prohibition on Jewish Fine Arts, there is prohibition on representation of chaotic worlds, illustrative eschatology and immersion into darkness. The hymn to light and responsibility of artist. "And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the spirit ("ruah"(hebrew) - I would say - hurricane) of God moved upon the face of the waters." And God said, let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness."(Genesis 1:2-4)

Existential dialog and silence of the Universe
The essence of the basic Jewish pray "Hear, O Israel" is not Jewish only, but it is personal (hear) - national (Israel) - universal (the Lord is our God, the Lord is One). It is said in the pray: "...if you continually hearken to my commandments..." Jewish tradition regards human life as a dialog with the Lord, as a trying to hear the answer to the question, that everyone ask himself: "Where am I?", and within the desire to hear the question to himself: "Where art thou?" This question frequently remains without the answer, the verbal answer, at least. Rare person can hear this Voice coming from the Heaven. Nevertheless, every one of us enters this dialog independently of his awareness of self-spiritually by his every action. Everyone is considering and commencing his acts, thought and wishes with some ethalone, that exist without or within. Everyone is occupied with or God-seeking, or God-constructing, or God-destructing, but more often with first, second and third together.

Tallite and Tefilline
Tallite - is a white rectangle, forming the space of any degree of flexibility. Filling in any futility slowly, smoothly and majestly. Enveloping, warming and concealing, coming on and falling down, floating and flying Tallite; attending every one who tries to realize the meaning of human being or passes on to another world. This is a little piece of white material that is born, growing up and dying, changing the colors from snow-white to cream, yellow and almost brown. It is beauty and proud of the Jew, his common wear with the Torah scroll. The shroud concealing for coming on special light. Four corners of Tallite is binding to the heaven by threads of vision. Blue color of one thread is leading not to nowhere, but thoughtfully transform "thelet"(blue) into "tahlit"(aim). This is a binding and orienting thread. Whether it is a State of Israel's flag, or it is a daily wear of orthodox person - Tallite is the uniting, keeping and giving a Hope space. Tefilline - is a black mat cube twinkling near the heart and the brain. Restricting, separating and standing over; containing four invisible little pieces of parchment with the Torah's words, that endow us of special priest-nation proudness. Was taken out from the slavery by wonderful and therefore not every deep realized way, which requires daily mention about it. Rib, cruelty, strictness and incredibility of our existence, border - we are dissolve instantly out of it. "Am segula" - the chosen people, like a rainbow violet ("segol") which preceedes an invisible ultraviolet, we close human possible flight and trend to the Heavens, beginning it from the most red of the earthes, the Man is created from.

Igor (Joseph) Ulanovsky
27.01.1997, Ramat-Gan, Israel

Igor Ulanovsky
(Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, 1956) is the author of several articles on Jewish history, ethnography and fine arts. His works may be found in private collections in Israel, Russia, USA, India...

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