About David rakia's art
article about David Rakia :
Professor M.L. Mendelson wrote in the book "David Rakia " 1984 :
Throughout his career Rakia has grown in terms of vision , style and technique . He has successfully touched on and organically incorporated in his work all the major styles of the period : expressionism, symbolism ,surrealism and to some extent – even abstraction , yet he remains above all and primarily an artist of mystical vision celebrating the unity and spiritual beauty of Jerusalem and the Jewish Spirit .
Dr. Gideon Ofrat wrote in the book "Signs"2009 :
The overall artistic progression of David Rakia, from his early steps in Jerusalem, up to the latest letters chapter could apparently be summarized in the three archetypal existential conditions – aesthetic, ethic and religious – as defined by the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard in his 1843 works (Either/Or and Fear and Trembling). For it can be claimed that Rakia’s earliest paintings, the Jerusalem vistas, sought to bring to fruition the “aesthetic”. But as far back as his proletarian paintings of 1953 – 1957, the ethical filtered in, never to release its hold on Rakia’s work over the course of decades, not even when he drew in the sensuality of Eros nor when he rose up to get in touch with the religious in all of his symbolic and visionary paintings. But in the letter paintings of the new millennium, Rakia made the “leap of faith”, in Kierkegaard’s terms, from “the ethical state” to the “religious state”. Here he executed an irrational plunge of faith into the ocean of letters, while taking his leave of the rational formulations of symbolic sentences of one kind or another. It seemed that now, he and his work matched the following lines by Kierkegaard:
“After being immersed in the general, he now isolates himself as higher than the general. (…) Now, without circumventing this general, but by way thereof, the individual raises himself above the general, as he stands in absolute relationship to the absolute.”
Professor Avraham Ronen , Ha- Arez (news paper) 1962 , about an exhibition of David Rakia in Nora Gallery
“The objective substance of Rakia’s letters is not created from a plastic three dimensional are emphasized by calculated “ colorful perspective “ . “
description but on account of they being a part a scenery with depth and space , which
DAVID RAKIA'S paintings show the artist's 40-yearpreoccupation with the Hebrew alphabet. In the beginning, letters made obscureappearances among the structures of his Jerusalem landscapes. But with time theybecame more prominent features of his compositions. In recent years they haveevolved into the theme of his abstract works, but only now has he reached whatseems the climax of his exploration: on large, engulfing canvases, Hebrewletters are basic elements filling uncomposed friezes. Rakia positions hisletter-particles by improvisation and without premeditated structure. He says heworks with a basic theme in mind, developing it like a baroque or jazz musician. But bold forms emerge. Layer upon layer of letters give a dramatic sense ofinfinite spatial depth, like uncountable stars receding to ungraspabledistances.
He was born in Vienna in 1928. His paternal grandfather was asofer stam — a scribe penning the Old Testament texts onto sacred parchment withthe painstaking attention to minutiae demanded by Jewish law. Rakia recalls hisfascination as a boy watching the old craftsman in his workshop. Later the Nazisdestroyed the scribe's work, and then murdered him in Theresienstadtconcentration camp. "My life's preoccupation has been retrieving his work," saysRakia.
With his parents, Rakia fled Europe in 1938, reaching Palestine aftersix months in transit. He later studied art at Jerusalem's Bezalel Academy andin Paris, and identified himself as a Surrealist. "But after Paris I underwent apersonal revolution and discovered my roots." He became obsessed with Jewishmysticism, and Hebraicized his name from the former Sternfell—Rakia meansheaven, or the mystical firmament of Genesis. His Hebrew letters motif firstappeared in public in 1961, in an exhibition at Tel Aviv Museum of Art.
Rakia calls his work an assertion of Hebrew culture in a world still hostileto Jewish identity. But his themes are larger, more universal, even cosmic. Hislanguage, admittedly, is local, specific—the Hebrew characters of his immediateenvironment—but their reference is to Heaven. Constellations of lettersrecurring in his paintings make up key words from the Kabbala — the central workof Jewish mysticism. Terms such as yesod (foundation), netzach (eternity), tiferet (splendor), emerge almost unintentionally, as in the automatic, stream-of-consciousness writing method nurtured by Joyce. These terms point tothe global, eternal preoccupation’s of this artist.
Rakia's work correspondswith Jewish tradition, which places the Hebrew alphabet in an exalted role. Thisstands in contrast with the Western assumption, evolved over the last three orfour centuries, that language has no significance or powers of its own. In theWest, words and letters are viewed as mere signs, which work as such only by thegrace of human, social convention. "Flower," for example, means something onlybecause people use it in their interactions to communicate thoughts aboutflowers. If the human use of the word was different, its meaning and entire rolein the world would be different as well.
But the traditional Jewish view isthat Hebrew is divinely instituted, not humanly evolved. The Hebrew language andits letters, accordingly, have a unique reality and holiness. It has existedeternally—and so predates Creation, and was already around and waiting for theevents of Genesis. Mystics have made much of the role of Hebrew characters inthe emergence of reality out of chaos—of how the letters acted as vessels forthe creation of the parts of our environment..
Rakia's mind-set is shaped bythe Kabbalistic view of the Hebrew language and its role in Creation. It is afanciful idea, but we can appreciate his canvases without making that leap offaith. As metaphors they work marvelously: We see a universe in which Hebrewletters, not material particles, are the basic components. It is a universeglowing with sacredness—and the sense of that sacredness infusing realitylingers, even when we switch back to our own. .
Letters of the Law
Veteran Jerusalem painter David Rakia (b. Vienna, 1928, here since 1938) an early Bezalel graduate, has been making paintings of ametaphysical bent, filled entirely with Hebrew lettering, for the last fourdecades. At last, in a show somewhat ominously entitled Toward the Beyond, hehas got it all together.
Much of the earlier body of Rakia's work skirtedthe edge of kitsch. You can see what I mean by taking a look at a highcolorshaped and multi-dimensional painted cutout Rakia has placed at the entrance tothe Jerusalem Artists House. Don't let it put you off. His paintings upstairsare an eye-opener, in which the myriad bits of lettering are brought toexcellent resolution in a series of pattern paintings of both depth and overallsurface design and quality.
Since 1980s biblical themes have been of primaryimportance to the artist, because for Alexander Gurevich the biblical narrativesare the seeds that never stop germinating, prototypes of historical situationswhich repeat themselves over and over again, landmarks of spiritual developmentof peoples and epochs.
Each of these works has been organized with adifferent color harmony and all of them work, whether in warm or cool hues. Thelight caught by various letters is carefully organized and the units form apleasing texture. But it's the careful and restrained color organization thatimparts a maturity to these unusual works.