In my drawings and paintings I attempt to marshal the aesthetics and some of the techniques of the “old masters” and filter them through the spirit of contemporary experience, philosophy and theology. I believe that narrative, representational art can continue to encourage dialog about important philosophical, theological, political and psychological questions, without abandoning the aesthetic function and technical skill of traditional drawing and painting.
As a Jewish artist I am particularly interested in pursuing a representational artistic style because for centuries the traditional Jewish ban on graven images inhibited the production of realistic religious art from the Jewish point of view. However, it is not my intent to go back in time in order to "fill in" the Jewish art that was never produced from the 15th to 19th centuries. Rather my work involves a contemporary perspective on Judaism and religion in general, a perspective that echoes and respects but also radically questions and challenges the tradition. In some ways, such as in my use of the Triptych motif, this involves borrowing themes and devices that are normally thought to be beyond the boundaries of Judaism. However, such “borrowings,” examples of which I have discussed in my book, Kabbalistic Metaphors, have been the rule rather than the exception in the history of Jewish thought.In some cases, I have utilized the Triptych and “religious icon” motif in an ironic manner, in order to confront the viewer with what I take to be the actual objects of worship in contemporary society - The (In)humanity Triptych.
A number of my paintings represent a transformation or re-signification of biblical or historical narratives. This transformation/resignification is not only expressed in the paintings themselves, but also in the brief pieces which I have, in certain cases (e.g. “A Midrash on Time”) written to accompany them. In sum, as I have done in my books and writings on Jewish mysticism (www.newkabbalah.com), I seek to both pay homage to traditional religious narratives and ideas but also transform them in a manner that speaks to contemporary life and thought.