web analytics
April 25, 2015 / 6 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Home » Sections » Arts »

We Are Patriarchs: Paintings by Elke Reva Sudin


Sunday Morning in the Tent of Abraham  (36 x 24), Oil on canvas by Elke Reva Sudin,
Courtesy Hadas Gallery

Sunday Morning in the Tent of Abraham (36 x 24), Oil on canvas by Elke Reva Sudin, Courtesy Hadas Gallery

Hadas Gallery (hadasgallery.com)
541 Myrtle Avenue, Brooklyn, New York
info@hadasgallery.com – 215 -704-2205
Until February 24. 2013

One way to understand the Biblical is through contemporary eyes, literally. And so artist Elke Reva Sudin has recast biblical figures through contemporary portraits. The juxtaposition is revealing. This extraordinary suite of 11 oil paintings, all created within the last year and a half, marks a courageous departure for this young artist as well as an exciting challenge to fellow contemporary Jewish artists to fully engage the biblical in contemporary terms. The works will be seen at the Hadas Gallery on Myrtle Avenue in Brooklyn until February 24.

Shabbat Afternoon in Leah’s Tent (36 x 60), Oil on canvas by Elke Reva Sudin.Courtesy Hadas Gallery

Shabbat Afternoon in Leah’s Tent (36 x 60), Oil on canvas by Elke Reva Sudin.
Courtesy Hadas Gallery

Shabbat Afternoon in Leah’s Tent is a lush depiction of a familial universe. The figures, representing Jacob with his first-born Reuven seated on the chairs and Leah, Simon and Levi (I’ll explain shortly), by the couch, are all arranged in the upper half of the image. The bottom is dominated by a busily patterned Persian carpet that combines with the overall fisheye view offering a dizzying impression of their living room. Their lives are rich with complex and interconnected meanings even as the little caged bird makes us pause and consider its symbolism.

In all these paintings the relationship between the biblical title and contemporary Brooklyn portrait is crucial. Here the artist exercises the right to change the gender of the characters in order to insist that the Biblical characters and personality traits are not necessarily gender bound. Others might take another interpretive approach and see this scene as Jacob and Leah with one son and two of the twin daughters born to each of Jacob’s wives (except Joseph), as described in Chapter 36 of Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer. In this way the image implies many more siblings beyond the literal pictorial frame. Whichever the explanation, the family depicted is genuine, pious and thoroughly convincing as a modern biblical vision.

Gender migration is not unusual to Judaism. We normally refer to God in the masculine and yet do not hesitate to refer to His Divine Presence as the female Shechinah. So too Sudin interprets the Song of Songs by depicting the great composition in the guise of a woman sitting with an oud pondering the next song she will compose. The sensitive portrait is of Basya Schechter, leader of the contemporary Jewish band, Pharaoh’s Daughter; here ostensibly depicted as the King Solomon himself.

Joseph in Exile (Joseph and Osnat) (36 x 24), Oil on wood panel by Elke Reva Sudin.Courtesy Hadas Gallery

Joseph in Exile (Joseph and Osnat) (36 x 24), Oil on wood panel by Elke Reva Sudin.
Courtesy Hadas Gallery

Changing context is of course a fundamental technique to invigorate all too familiar narratives. Here, Joseph in Exile (Joseph and Osnat) forces us to re-understand the puzzling biblical narrative. Joseph is given Osnat, the daughter of Potiphera, ostensibly an Egyptian woman as a wife (Genesis 41:45). An Egyptian woman as a wife! The Midrash explains that she is actually the daughter of Dinah, sent away after the terrible violation of Jacob’s daughter. She has been adopted by Potiphera, the same former master of Joseph. Her pivotal role cannot be overemphasized in that she is the Jewish female presence re-introduced to Joseph’s highly assimilated life. In this painting she is depicted holding a siddur, in effect reminding Joseph of his Jewish roots. The contemporary portrait of this black Jewish couple reverberate back into the biblical narrative; Joseph as a man of power and yet an outsider is vindicated by the confidence of his and his wife’s role in Jewish history.

Rudin’s series considers the role of the individual equally with the familial and so her depiction of Rivka at the Well reverberates historically as well as personally. This is a painting consumed by potentiality. Rivka at the Well depicts a contemporary woman sitting at a New York City bar, “Nahor Lounge” waiting for her bashert to arrive. Notice she is adorned with an explosive bracelet and the echoed pattern above her heart connotes her eagerness. Her wristwatch tells us that time is a wasting while the image of a camel (slyly from the packaging of Camel Cigarettes) fleshes out the narrative soon to unfold. But this image is about what is about to happen and how we may prepare for it. It suggests that we should go to the place where possibility exists. This image is a totally unique understanding of the matriarch Rivkah and what she may teach us today.

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.

One Response to “We Are Patriarchs: Paintings by Elke Reva Sudin”

  1. Check out the work of Elke Reva Sudin, an LYA graduate, whose art was covered in the Jewish Press. LYA is very proud of your achievements.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Car - A-Tor
Updated: Police Injured in Suspected Jerusalem Terror Attack
Latest Sections Stories
Food-Talk---Eller-logo

“People who never buy cookbooks are getting this one,” said Victoria. “They read it cover to cover and find it so interesting.”

South-Florida-logo

We have recently witnessed how other minorities deal with even perceived danger aimed at their brothers and sisters. They respond in great numbers.

South-Florida-logo

The Hebrew Academy students took part in all categories and used successful and innovative techniques to achieve their goals.

“The objective behind establishing small communities as places for relocation was a remedy for the excessive cost of housing and education in the large New York metropolitan market,” Mr. Savitsky explained.

Jewish Democrats did not entirely trust the son of Joseph Kennedy, a man broadly considered to be both anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi.

The teenage years are not about surviving. They are about thriving.

Every moment was a gift. I held each one, savoring.

We arrived in Auschwitz on Thursday, January 30, 2014. My seminary was taking us to see where the prisoners were kept. When we got there, I stepped off the bus in complete and total silence. I was in the back, and when we got to the gate I hesitated and started shaking uncontrollably. I couldn’t […]

From the moment Israel was declared a Jewish state, it has been the subject of controversy and struggle.

Now that Pesach is over, we return you to your regularly-scheduled pressing questions:   Dear Mordechai, Can I use a nose hair trimmer during Sefirah? Harry Lipman   Dear Harry, Yes, as long as your nose hairs are so bad that they’re affecting your job. Like if you have a desk job, and they interfere […]

It is very natural for kids to want attention and to be jealous of each other, especially when there is a new baby.

During the Second World War, a million and a half Jewish soldiers fought in the Allied armies, the Partisan units in Eastern Europe, and the anti-fascist underground movements in Western Europe and North Africa. These Jewish fighters won over 200,000 medals and citations. The Museum of the Jewish Soldier in World War II in Latrun, […]

The 2-day real estate event will take place in Brooklyn on April 26 and 27.

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/we-are-patriarchs-paintings-by-elke-reva-sudin/2013/02/15/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: