<span lang='en'>Color and Spirituality</span>

Color and Spirituality

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Do you consider color an important element in your work?

Certainly. It is possible that color is my main vehicle of expression. Color is the language of the heart, and even much deeper than the heart. Strong color is what reaches into another’s being and asks him to connect. Also expression of all subtleties of emotion are manifest through color relationships.

How your application of color is different from Kandinsky’s or Rothko’s use of color? Do you see color as having spiritual qualities?

It is hard for me to say that I know of the intention of either of these artists in their color choices. Perhaps it would be well for me to study some of what they have written or said on this subject. I see that Kandinsky considered his use of color as a connection to the spiritual: “Color directly influences the soul. Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another purposively, to cause vibrations in the soul.” from “Concerning the Spiritual in Art” 1911.

I found written that Rothko ‘insisted that his art concerned the distillation of human experience, both tragic and ecstatic, to its purest form.’ Also: ‘Rothko began to insist that he was not an abstractionist and that such a description was as inaccurate as labeling him a great colorist. His interest was only in expressing basic human emotions—tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on. And the fact that a lot of people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures shows that I can communicate those basic human emotions… The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when I painted them. And if you, as you say, are moved only by their color relationship, then you miss the point.’

Although it is fair to assert that in a general way both of these artists used color in a transcendent manner; that is, that they did not subject their color choices towards picturing that what is seen with the physical eye, and used color as a means of expressing emotional realities, exploiting its power to express aspects of human drama and thought that cannot be expressed in word, or even in line and tone; and in this sense I have inherited and accepted theirs, and others ‘contribution’ in this matter; yet it seems to me that these two artists, as well as even all others who use color to express “transcendent realities’, the particular language of color is first and ultimately personal to the artist and is found to him through his intuitive explorations through picture-making itself. In this sense I am similar to them; yet my artwork differs from theirs in that it is completely subject and subservient to the parameters of the Holy Torah; every artwork being a means by which I connect myself and those who view the work to the Source of the Torah, blessed is He. Color is one of the main, if not the main, aspects of the visual language with which this is achieved. The source of color is certainly transcendent of this world, as it is outlined at length in the Kabbalah (in particular the work :Pardes Rimonim of Rav Moshe Kordevero, z”l). Although these concepts are before my eyes, and my work is connected, even continually, to them; nevertheless the loftiness of the meaning of what the Kabbalah teaches about color cannot be underestimated. The most important thing for me in my use of color is that it be honest to both my thought and emotion, and not to use it to picture symbolically that with my heart does not also know. Thus is possible to answer in extreme brevity; for me to explain fully requires a much different forum.

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pencil on paper

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