web analytics
October 22, 2014 / 28 Tishri, 5775
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 »

Bloom’s Bittersweet Vision: Paintings by Lloyd Bloom

Chassidic Art Institute


375 Kingston Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11213;  (718) 774 9149


Noon – 7pm; Sunday – Thursday; Zev Markowitz, director


Until June 22, 2010

 

 

 

Upon entering Lloyd Bloom’s exhibition at the Chassidic Art Institute one is confronted by the sweet beautiful image of a lamb skipping through the air in a puffy cloud landscape.  Right next to it is an image of a goat kid cuddled up in the lap of a young shepherd.  Further down the wall we see paintings depicting a young man leining from the Torah, then women lighting Shabbos candles and finally a father and son at the seder table, all candidates to be the most emblematic scene of Jewish life imaginable.  So too an emotional scene showing a crowd of traditional Jews embracing each other sweeps us away on a wave of familiar emotions.  All true until one picks up the gallery list of paintings with each work’s title.  Little by little the façade falls away and a much more serious and tragic patina adjusts the meaning of these intriguing artworks.

 

That skipping lamb is actually, according to the artist, symbolic of Passover.  In other words, he will be dinner.  The image of the goat kid is titled Chad Gadya and we all know what happens to that little animal after the first stanza of the Passover song. The meager seder table with the dreamy eyed son listening to his father is actually set in the Warsaw Ghetto.  Unlikely is “Next Year in Jerusalem,” this may be their last.  In all of these images, Bloom is not trying to be maudlin; rather he simply anchors our common Jewish experiences in the real world of Jewish history.

 

My review of Lloyd Bloom’s work graced these pages five years ago when I commented on his use of unique perspectives to create visual interest and uncommon meanings.  Upon revisiting some of his older work and seeing the new work, there are considerably more treasures to be unearthed.  Reconsidering his painting of Lot and his Daughters yields a more tragic painting; the father and his children are terrified at what appears to be the end of their world.  Their mad dash to the illusion of safety foretells the fate of many a Jewish family in a still threatening world.

 



Lot and his Daughters, acrylic on paper by Lloyd Bloom

Courtesy the Chassidic Art Institute

 

So too the lush and deceptive image known as the Controversial Tree.  The thick leafy plant sports festive red fruit and initially harkens to the burning bush that is until a brown spotted snake is seen peeking out from beneath the ample foliage.  His evil head, defined by an all too attentive eye, is clearly seen near the top of the bush, a red forked tongue darting from his mouth.  It is the uneasy combination of pleasant lushness, a flora that seems bountiful and life giving; but here infested with malevolent animal nature, that makes this image so unsettling.  In the loss of our primal innocence, why is the source of the knowledge of good and evil so threatening?

 


Controversial Tree, acrylic on paper by Lloyd Bloom

Courtesy the Chassidic Art Institute

 

 

Perhaps as we begin to lose innocence we are forced to confront the elemental nature of evil.  The tragedy is that this removes us from the Divine, separates us from a realm of unity and dumps us into the reality of a world hopelessly mixed up with good, evil and all the sorted variations in between.  In some sense that is the meaning of another of Bloom’s paintings: David and Goliath

 


David and Goliath, acrylic on paper by Lloyd Bloom

Courtesy the Chassidic Art Institute

 

 

David is depicted as a lad, barely a teenager.  He stands with boyish pride, the enormous sword measuring two thirds of his entire height. And indeed Tanach treats him as such saying “for he was but a boy, ruddy and handsome” (Samuel 1:43).  And yet he holds the massive head of the slain Goliath, much like the 1610 version of this subject by the Italian Baroque painter Caravaggio.  And yet the differences are telling.  Here David is supremely confident, not doubting like the Caravaggio, and furthermore Bloom provides us with the lifeless body of the fallen Philistine as evidence of his victory.  At first it is visually uncertain as to what is happening.  Then slowly we see that Goliath’s body is upside down, his severed neck at David’s feet.  This provides an additional triumph for David in the form of a visual decapitation, the literal reversal whereas the head is normally on the top, now the body is turned around and is violently separated from its commander.  The shock of a fallen mighty warrior is quite enough to animate this painting, and yet here even the lifeless Goliath intimates his terrible failure, the thumb of his limp hand gestures towards his severed neck admitting defeat.  Of course in the contrast between fresh-faced youth and his powerful victim the most substantive reading is that it is David’s innocence that has been slain here.  Welcome to the real world.

 



David and Goliath, oil on canvas by Caravaggio

Courtesy Galleria Borghese, Rome

 

Finally Bloom’s image of Jews embracing.  At first glance it is simply a tightly composed image of individuals embracing.  Shallow space and an aerial perspective bring us very close to the subjects. The couple in the lower left sets the tone of deep affection with a cheek to cheek hug while just above them a father is about to embrace a child held up to him by a woman. To the right the man with his back to us simultaneously embraces two children.  Almost everyone’s eyes are closed, so deep is their emotional concentration.  The title To Auschwitz shocks us as we are forced to reevaluate the meaning of the emotions we see depicted.  Suddenly the intensity is of fear and loss, not joy.  The scene begins to narrate into a future that we know and yet these figures could never guess.  What could have been a joyous welcome or a fond farewell now sours into impending tragedy.

 



To Auschwitz, acrylic on paper by Lloyd Bloom

Courtesy the Chassidic Art Institute

 

Lloyd Bloom is an accomplished and deeply sensitive artist.  He intuitively knows exactly which moment needs to be captured to remind us of the importance of the subject at hand; whether the joys of ordinary Jewish life, an episode from our sacred history or the tragic moments that seem to haunt our people for millennia.  He finds the most meaning in the interstices between image and text, between what we initially think we are looking at and what the text, via the title, subverts and transforms.  The visual experience he confronts us with is inherently Jewish, a constant dialogue between two ways of thinking, multiple concepts simultaneously juggled and suspended in mid-air. It’s a visual and intellectual pleasure not to be missed.

 

 

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 “Bloom’s Bittersweet Vision: Paintings by Lloyd Bloom

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
IDF soldiers are evacuated to a hospital after a terror attack.
Photo credit: Smiley Hafuch / Rotter.net
ISIS-Linked Terror Attack on IDF From Sinai
Latest Sections Stories

It is important for a therapist to focus on a person’s strengths as a way of overcoming his or her difficulties.

Sadly, there are mothers who, due to severe depression are unable or unwilling to prepare nourishing food for their children.

Michal had never been away from home. And now, she was going so far away, for so long – an entire year!

Though if you do have a schach mat, you’ll realize that it cannot actually support the weight of the water.

Social disabilities occur at many levels, but experts identify three different areas of learning and behavior that are most common for children who struggle to create lasting social connections.

Sukkot is an eternal time of joy, and if we are worthy, of plenty.

Two of our brothers, Jonathan Pollard and Alan Gross, sit in the pit of captivity. We have a mandate to see that they are freed.

Chabad of South Broward has 15 Chabad Houses in ten cities.

Victor Center works in partnership with healthcare professionals, clergy, and the community to sponsor education programs and college campus out reach.

So just in case you’re stuck in the house this Chol HaMoed – because there’s a new baby or because someone has a cold – not because of anything worse, here are six ideas for family fun at home.

We are told that someone who says that God’s mercy extends to a bird’s nest should be silenced.

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/blooms-bittersweet-vision-paintings-by-lloyd-bloom-2/2010/06/09/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: