web analytics
September 23, 2014 / 28 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » Sections » Arts »

Shuls On My Mind: Robert Feinland’s Paintings

Synagogue for the Arts (2000), oil on linen by Robert Feinland. Courtesy Chassidic Art Institute

Synagogue for the Arts (2000), oil on linen by Robert Feinland. Courtesy Chassidic Art Institute

Feinland returned to the roots of his faith in the last decade as he concentrated on urban paintings of the Crown Heights neighborhood. The mikveh at Union Street and the venerable Chovevei Torah synagogue naturally figured in his gaze. Not surprisingly 770 Eastern Parkway became a major motif for Feinland to explore. After being away for so many years, his repeated visitations over the last 14 years have earned him the reputation as a well-known neighborhood artist.

Conversations Under the Moon (2011), oil on linen by Robert Feinland. Courtesy Chassidic Art Institute

Almost half of Feinland’s paintings in this exhibition contain the iconic 770, depicted from different angles and at different seasons. The largest is a diptych, Conversations Under the Moon and was completed this last year after at least 20 outdoor sessions. It was well worth all the effort.

Feinland has again bent the space in the painting, applying an arching curvilinear perspective, to provide us with a palpable sense of almost two city blocks; from 770 itself, to the yeshiva and World Headquarters and past the modernistic Jewish Children’s Museum to the row houses that stretch to the corner of Albany Avenue. He has also broadened our view to include the Eastern Parkway Pedestrian Mall lined with park benches. The sidewalk is populated with dozens of young men, many talking on cell phones, and a handful of women with strollers, all enjoying what appears to be a sunny Spring morning. One is struck by the visual tension between the left panel, whose perspective seems to “normally” recede in the distance, and the street in front of 770 that sharply curves to accommodate a more frontal view of the architectural symbol of the Lubavitch movement. It is deeply significant that Feinland’s diptych manages to simultaneously resolve the perspectival conflict and yet maintain its tension. Central to the concept of curvilinear space is the notion of simultaneously different visual points of view. Here the two-part image combines the iconic 770 – the Rebbe’s seat of power and holiness – and the street stretching away into the more mundane world of the surrounding community.

Mitzvah Tank (2011), oil on Masonite by Robert Feinland. Courtesy Chassidic Art Institute

As is not surprising in Crown Heights, the Rebbe is never far from anyone’s consciousness. Mitzvah Tank is a quiet visual essay on the ubiquitous image of Rabbi Schneerson. A parked Mitzvah Tank (which is essentially a traveling shul), seen from the back, dominates the simple view of a tree-lined Crown Heights street. Situated in what is almost exactly the center of the painting is the Rebbe’s familiar image next to “Moshiach is Coming Now!” In the simplest of ways Feinland expresses a fundamental belief of an entire community.

Rebbe’s House (2002), oil on linen by Robert Feinland. Courtesy Chassidic Art Institute

About three blocks from 770 is the Rebbe’s personal house, now sitting unused. Feinland’s intense curvilinear image seems to echo the considerable amount of the controversy and tension over the great leader’s legacy. In the sweep of the three houses shown, his house is cast into dramatic relief, seeming to tower over the viewer just as the jagged tree on the foreground curb stabs the sky above. It is a painting of sharp angles and twisted forms that are held in place by the green grass lawn and stately pine tree immediately in front of the house itself. Like many of his best paintings, it manages to combine complexity, drama and commentary in a beautiful image.

As we all know the command to “draw close to Hashem” is a fundamental religious act. Once that was originally satisfied by offering sacrifices at the Temple and now, without a Temple, we minimally fulfill it by learning Torah and daily prayer. Robert Feinland’s synagogue paintings bend space with a curvilinear consciousness, bringing close houses of Jewish faith and belief, allowing the viewer to be brought close both visually and mentally. In his way his work becomes another avenue through which we can “draw close to Hashem.”

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

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 “Shuls On My Mind: Robert Feinland’s Paintings”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Drone Intercept Along Syrian Border 1
Israel Shoots Down Syrian MIG-21 After Infiltrating Israeli Airspace
Latest Sections Stories
Calmer Times. Breslov chassidim on erev Rosh Hashanah in 2012 at the grave of Rav Nachman in Uman.

As optimistic as Menachem Rosenberg is – and he said he is going to Uman – he’s sure that this year, most of the travelers will not tour other religious sites or places in Ukraine.

Three sets of three-day Yomim Tovim can seem overwhelming – especially when we are trying to stay healthy.

Plotkin-092614

Is a missed opportunity to do a mitzvah considered a sin?

Teens-Twenties-logo

The sounds and scents of the kitchen are cozy, familiar, but loud in the silence.

Everyone has a weakness. For some people it is the inability to walk past a sales rack without dropping a few hundred dollars. For others, it’s the inability to keep their house organized.

Not enjoying saying no, I often succumbed to requests viewing them as demands I couldn’t refuse.

His entire life was dedicated to Torah and he became a pivotal figure in the transmittal of the Oral Torah to the next generation.

When you don’t have anyone else to turn to… that’s when you’re tied to Hashem the closest.

While we all go to restaurants for a good meal, it is dessert, that final taste that lingers in your mouth, that is the crown jewel of any dining experience and Six Thirteen’s offerings did not disappoint.

Today, fifty years and six million (!) people later, Israel is truly a different world.

There will always be items that don’t freeze well – salads and some rice- or potato-based dishes – so you need to leave time to prepare or cook them closer to Yom Tov and ensure there is enough room in the refrigerator to store them.

In Uzbekistan, in the early twentieth century, it was the women who wore the pants.

This is an important one in raising a mentsch (and maybe even in marrying off a mentsch! listening skills are on the top of the list when I do shidduch coaching).

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/shuls-on-my-mind-robert-feinlands-paintings/2012/04/26/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: