web analytics
March 4, 2015 / 13 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Home » Sections » Arts »

Archie Rand: Three Major Works

McBee-112511-Daniel

In this exhibition Rand and curator Slavin have offered the viewer invaluable textual references to each work.   The majority of the paintings are close to eye-level along with the wall labels creating a wonderfully user-friendly installation. This allows the viewer not only to orient the image in relationship to text, but also to contrast or in some cases ignore the text allowing the image to operate quite on its own, liberated from the original inspiration.  And this is crucial. Rand’s work is so deeply Jewish because it demands, like the Torah text itself, both a pshat (literal) meaning and a drash (homiletical) meaning, and refuses to be limited by either.

The “Chapter Paintings” were an early exploration of exactly how a visual language can express and appropriate sacred text and narrative.  Rand’s earlier work in the Syrian B’nai Yosef Synagogue (1977) on Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn approached similar material but was in many ways constrained by the dictates of the congregation and rabbinic supervision.  Acutely conscious of issues stemming from the second Commandment, there was no human representation.  Rand cautiously used Jewish symbols, landscape metaphors and liturgical texts to decorate all the walls of the main sanctuary, the balcony and the downstairs study halls.  The result was a one-of-a-kind totally decorated synagogue, a sacred space transformed into one of visual contemplation and a lush pictorial feast.

Ekev (1989), acrylic & mixed media on canvas, 36 x 24 by Archie Rand From “The Chapter Paintings,” courtesy the artist

Years later and now outside the synagogue walls, he was free to approach the Torah as a totally autonomous artist.  Rand produced in 1992 “Sixty Paintings from the Bible” that was a significant departure from his earlier methodology.  Here the paintings themselves imposed pertinent biblical texts on the viewer in the form of text balloons, even while depending upon an esoteric visual scaffolding.  That scaffolding was provided by a set of seventeenth century engravings, Icones Biblicae (1630) by the Christian artist Matthaeus Merian.  Rand’s appropriations are superficially similar to those of the widely reproduced Amsterdam Haggadah of 1695. The difference here is that Rand uses the images as a mere framework to “reassess the Tanach, get past the standard English translation and find the ‘punch’ of the original Hebrew.” The results are compelling.

Initially the images seem to be straightforward and literal depictions of the text.  But then one becomes aware of the enormous tension between the late Renaissance compositions, the eclectic postmodern color, and the large word balloons that virtually shout text at the viewer.  Rand demands our absolute attention by enlarging and underlining specific words to provide his very personal biblical commentary.  The prophet Isaiah pleads; “Lord, HOW LONG?” and his ancient cry becomes ours today, still in a perpetual Exile.  Likewise the prophet Daniel calmly facing a pride of lions, his hands clasped behind his back, assumes the role of the viewer in the image.  Darius demands “…Did your GOD save you from the lions?” and we acutely feel the trepidation and angst of our daily challenges.

In each of these “Sixty Paintings from the Bible” Rand utilizes underlined texts and vivid colors to shift our focus of well-known narratives in totally unexpected ways.  It is as if he went through all of Tanach and circled sixty passages as crucial and important because they represent the enormous richness of human diversity as we struggle in our lives within the Divine plan.

68:34 (1994) acrylic, enamel & marker on canvas by Archie Rand From “Psalm 68,” courtesy the artist

About the Author: Richard McBee is a painter and writer on Jewish Art. Contact him at rmcbee@nyc.rr.com


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Archie Rand: Three Major Works”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Pelosi turns her back on Netanyahu and Congress.
Netanyahu Says Israel Can Stand Alone – and Pelosi Turns her Back [video]
Latest Sections Stories
Yarden Merlot

Bottles of wine accompany the Pesach storytelling – each glass of wine represents the four expressions used by G-d in describing the redemption of the Jewish people from Egypt.

Schonfeld-logo1

There is a point that many parenting books miss: children do more for us than we do for them.

Brigitte Gabriel

Brigitte was a nine-year-old girl when Islamic militants launched an assault on a Lebanese military base and destroyed her home.

The husband needs to make some changes!

Purim is a fantastic time for fantasies, so I hope you won’t mind my fantasizing about how easy life would be if kids would prefer healthy cuisine over sweets. Imagine waking up to the call of “Mommy, when will my oatmeal be ready?”… As you rush to ladle out the hot unsweetened cereal, you rub […]

‘Double Gold’ awarded to 2012 Yarden Heights wine & 2011 Yarden Merlot Kela Single Vineyard.

One should not give the money before Purim morning or after sunset.

The mishloach manos of times gone by were sometimes simple and sometimes elaborate, but the main focus was on the preparation of the delicious food they contained.

One of the earliest special Purims we have on record was celebrated by the Jews of Granada and Shmuel HaNagid, the eleventh-century rav, poet, soldier and statesman, and one of the most influential Jews in Muslim Spain.

Jews, wake up! Stop educating the world and start educating yourselves.

The lessons conform to the sensitivities and needs of the Orthodox community…

The program took on special significance as it marked not only the first anniversary of Rebbetzin Kudan’s levayah but also the 27th yahrzeit of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson, a”h.

It was only in the reign of George III (1760-1820) that Jews became socially acceptable in Britain, and Nathan became music master to Princess Charlotte and musical librarian to King George IV.

It captures the love of the Jewish soul as only Shlomo Hamelech could portray it – and as only Rabbi Miller could explain it.

More Articles from Richard McBee
Jerusalem to Jericho Road: photograph by Chanan Getraide
“Chanan Getraide Photographs”: 2004 exhibition at Hebrew Union College Museum

“We are living in a Golden Age of Jewish Art, but don’t know it.”

McBee-062014-Outside

He refuses to flinch from our painful history, perhaps finding a kind of solace in the consistency of irrational enmity directed against us.

“Vidduy: The Musical” breaks through the formidable barrier of repetitive confession to allow us to begin to understand what is at the heart of this fundamental religious act.

A fascinating glimpse into the rich complexity of medieval Jewish life and its contemporary relevance had intriguingly emerged.

Silverstein’s work has long concerned itself with the intersection between the personal and Jewish Biblical narrative, significantly explored in this column in “Brighton Beach Bible” (July 27, 2009).

Not surprisingly the guardians of synagogue tradition is male dominated in both Moses Abraham, Cantor and Mohel and Synagogue Lamp Lighters.

Neither helpless victims nor able to escape the killer’s clutches, the leaders had to make impossible choices on a daily basis in a never-ending dance with the devil.

Bradford has opted to fully exploit the diverse possibilities of the physical surface by concentrating on the three-dimensional application of paint (impasto) and other material.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/arts/archie-rand-three-major-works/2011/11/24/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: