- selected writings from the artist
- selected comments received on the artwork
David Baruch Wolk was born and raised in America. He graduated Magna Cum Laude in Fine Arts from Amherst College in 1981 and continued onto various post-graduate art programs and schools including Queens College, the New York Studio School, and Yale University, winning several scholarships, honors, praise and encouragement. Building upon a solid classical foundation in drawing and painting, his work began to become more abstract and personal as he focused all his energies upon developing his artistic response to the contemporary world. In 1986 he moved to Israel where he began studying and practicing Torah. He married, raised a family, and immersed himself in Talmud, and became a scribe specializing in very high-quality tefillin parchments. In 2006 he returned to the art studio emerging with the works that he now presents to the public. This unique work has been highly acclaimed by critics. He also has written extensively upon the subject of Torah and art, to explain the significance and meaning of his work.
בערך בגיל עשרים, כשהייתי באוניברסיטה, בארה”ב, החלטתי להקדיש את חיי להיות אמן, צייר. ובמהלך השנים הבאות התמסרתי כולי לרכוש כל ידע מעשי שיכולתי להשיג בתחום האמנות. אבל הרצון העיקרי שהוביל אותי היה להכיר: מהם החיים, מהו בן אדם, מה התכלית בעולם הזה שכדאי לעמול כל החיים בשבילו? ומצאתי, שלכאורה, זה גם היה החיפוש של האמנים המודרניים. יצאתי מן החינוך הפורמלי ומן ההשכלה שבו בהנחה שתכלית האמן האמתי: להקדיש את חייו לעמוד מול ה”קיר” שלו – הקנבס הריק שלו, לעמול להתעמק ולצייר: מהו משמעות החיים
האמן עומד במקום אחד ומתבונן. הוא מתנתק ממרוצת החיים ושואל: מאין באתי ולאן אני הולך? מה מוטל עלי להבין ולעשות כאן, בעולם הזה, בחיים האלה, וכל שאלה אחרת שעולה על דעתו, ולקבל תשובות דרך הציור . ובתקופת הזמן שלנו, הדרך הזאת להתבונן באמנות, היא הדרך היחידה לייצר אמנות הראויה להיקרא אמנות.
אמנות הייתה בשבילי (אז, וגם עכשיו) דרך להתבונן ולחקור עמוק בתוך שכלי ולבי למצוא את המשמעות האמתית. ועל ידי התעסקות בשאלה מהו משמעות החיים ממילא יש ערך רב לאומנות זו, יש לה ערך שכדאי לחיות בשבילה, יש לה מקום בעולם
עמל קשה עומל האמן בעבודה זו —לצייר עם חומרים גסים אין ספור דמויות רק כדי למצוא ,לגלות ולבטא את האמת, עמל לא קל. אבל כך מצאתי–שכל העמל הזה הוא הייעוד שלי
מתוך ההתבודדות וההתבוננות מצאתי: א’: יש אלקים. ב’: יש משמעות ותכלית לחיים. ג’: אני יהודי
לא הכרתי מי הוא אלקים. לא ידעתי מה התכלית בחיים, ולא ידעתי איזה משמעות יש לזה שאני יהודי
אבל כבר הייתי רגיל בהתבוננות וחיפוש. בגיל עשרים ושש עליתי לארץ, ובגיל עשרים ושבע נכנסתי ללמוד בישיבה. בגיל עשרים ותשע הפסקתי לצייר. מצאתי את האמת, התורה הקדושה, וידעתי למי להתפלל. אבל לא ידעתי את המקום של האמנות בתוך החיים ע”פ התורה
בגיל ארבעים ושבע שוב חזרתי לצייר. מצאתי שיש פנים של אמת שאינם מתגלים אלא על ידי ציור. הגעתי להבנה שכוונת הקב”ה שכיוון בשבילי שהתעסקותי באמנות לא היה רק גשר להביא אותי לתורת האמת, כמו שחשבתי, אלא שיש עומקים נפלאים מאוד בתורת האמת ובנשמה היהודית שלא יכולים להתבטא (לפחות בשבילי) אלא ע”י ציור. ישתבח שמו לעד
- What is known as the Kaballah, the innermost aspect of the holy Torah, was revealed some 2000 years ago by Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai, z”l, this revelation being principally for the sake of ‘the last generation’, that in which we live, and through which Yisrael will be redeemed in mercy. This aspect of Torah can be understood as being different from “The Revealed Torah” in that the Revealed Torah is primarily that of speech, teaching man the straight path through commandments which are processed verbally. “The Hidden Torah” can be understood as a Torah of thought, revealing the words and letters of the Torah unmasked as a kind of “Divine Code” of holy names of Hashem, through which man is able to connect and cleave to Hashem, Yisborach namely through the channels of directed thought. This Torah, for this generation, can be understood as a Torah which is seen, rather than heard, the temunot ha’otiot, the “forms (lit. pictures) of the holy letters” being the gateways in which one enters to connect with his holy source. In light of this, it seems appropriate that should emerge a new form of Torah expression—visual ‘artworks’ built upon the holy letters of the Torah.
“My art-work is all about inner life. My inspiration is the Torah and my work is avodat hamussar and avodat hachassidus. Thus my works are “compositions”—because their main structure is my grappling with organizing my spiritual life. It is true that I find “nature” extraordinarily beautiful and inspiring. But I do not paint external realities. I appreciate a beautiful painting of nature and formerly strived to paint beautiful pictures from “life”. It is very challenging and I was far from successful. It is not that I “conquered” naturalism and went on to abstraction. I proceeded to abstraction because I saw that the organization of the picture was more essentially the issue of painting; that to create a coherent vivid image from “imagination” was a much greater and more profound task than naturalistic painting.
Entrance into the realm of the imagination, the expression of pure feeling and intuition, can be likened to setting sail in a great ocean. One can only successfully navigate the waters with a great ship. This ship is called “da’as”–understanding or knowledge [Torah]. As I had decided to ‘go out to sea’, to reach the distance shore towards which artists strive, I was made vitally aware of the insufficiency of my boat. Hashem Yisborach, in His great kindness, led me to His Torah. Twenty years later I saw that I was ready to set sail.
I produce paintings and drawings which have as their end, not principally aesthetic enjoyment, rather spiritual illumination. They are works produced with the intention of elucidating the life of what I strive to be; an eved Hashem, a servant of The Holy One, Blessed is He.
I consider my choice of the pursuit of art as part of my larger search for my true purpose in life, with the underlying belief that nothing is accidental in the nature of my existence and in the form of my life; and to search out and realize the secrets of my existence–this is my task and measure of all my success. The search for expression of inner truth in art-making led me discover the Eternal, the Holy Torah, and my true obligations as a human; this in turn led me to attempt to express these truths in artworks.
The inner content of the pictures represents musing upon the subject that is pictured in words, musings that have as their common base—‘Torah thought that are more appropriately expressed in pictorial form than in words’. At a simple level the pictures are a means of making available to a wide public divrei Torah that are otherwise privy to those who have merited to sit in the Bais HaMedrash day and night. And if they are teachings that are already well known to all, they are a means of communicating the depths of the matter. My pictures represent a process of careful consideration of Torah concepts—in particular the concepts that are spelled out in the particular picture. Thus the ‘abstraction’ is a portrayal of a personal grappling with or response to the inner essence of the saying. In summation my pictures are attempts to render through the inherent means and rules of pictorial expression– a language discovered and developed by artists from ancient times until our day–a deep understanding of the subject portrayed.
At a deeper level—behold the world is created from the Torah and through the letters of the Torah. In the words of our Sages of blessed memory: the Torah is the blueprint of the universe. Thus being so, it only stands to reason that the pictorial form and structures whose rules and secrets the great artists through history have toiled to uncover, is in itself an emanation of Torah. Indeed the entire creation receives its life, its existence from the Torah. Thus I wish to dispel the thought that there is an essential disparity between artistic form, in particular “modern” artistic form, and Torah content. Rather there is parity and harmony between them. The prerequisite condition for successfully producing art which is Torah is purely the artist’s sincere desire to search out and explicate truth, and not to let the means, that is, pictorial form¸ inherent in which is deception and illusion, dominate the content; rather the opposite: the content which is truth must dominate and subjugate the form to its goals.
My initial impetus to become an artist emanated from the cognition that the creation of art-pieces held the potential for expressing very deep and primary truths about a person in particular and man in general; that, paradoxically, although art embraces the very most superficial aspects of our reality, the external appearance of the world, nevertheless, it holds seemingly unlimited potential for expressing seemingly endless depths of truth. I grew to learn that the ability to exploit this potential was tied up with the artist’s desire and willingness to exploit the pure components of his trade alone, namely: line, tone and color, and to wean himself of his desire to relate to the world through his pictures in conventional and superficial ways. Thus the artist must involve himself of developing his own personal language in form and color to express the extent to which he is able to reach into the truths of his being, which are only in the depths and only found with much labor.”
My artwork are my personal forages into the inner recesses of my being in an effort to reveal to myself hidden spiritual depths in order to bring light to the darkness and life to the inert. I find that through perpetual and persistent search for truth one finds the connection between the lowest and the highest, the physical and the spiritual, between one’s personal consciousness and “The Consciousness of the Universe”, the Holy Blessed One, and His Torah, which becomes my Torah (see Talmud Bavli, Tractate Avodah Zarah 19a).
I see to write: my artwork is my taking my Torah knowledge (and whatever else I have inside of me) and sketching and refining it in chulin–on a surface, according to the principles of visual organization and expression. That is: to take all my thought and to try to express it in the most simple structures that are possible. One needn’t know any Kaballah or even Mishnah or Talmud, or even Chumash or even know how to read Aramaic or Lashon haKodesh or even English in order to benefit from the Torah that is the content of these pictures;one can simply look and experience, and receive that which I have to impart, even the highest concepts. All this to make Torah accessible to anyone whose soul desires to drink and be nourished.
More than this; I seek to include my mistakes and lacks in understanding in the the picture themselves, to share my process of thinking through and sorting out thoughts, struggles to separate correct from false, holy from profane, etc. to admit to myself and to others: “where I am at”–for example: even though I may understand a piece of Torah nicely, still, perhaps, it is not yet completely absorbed in all my being; and this reality I want to represent in the pictures—both: that which I know in my mind, and that which I still am in myself, which is not yet coincident with that knowledge. This: in order to make true pictures in the fullest sense to which I am able, for my own good and for the good of others.
It should be, it seems to me, that these pictures should be accessible to all, for I am lowering myself, very very much, to put Torah into geometric shapes and colors, etc. and, furthermore, to admit and even to proclaim out loud, so to speak, all my failings ( even though there is a limit to this—out of respect to the Torah which I embody and which is in the pictures—understand this.) Yet, I see that even these pictures are difficult for most people to “understand”, and I’ve wondered a lot about this.
It seems, that even this, the fact that I seek to lower the Torah that I possess, to express it is such simple ways, and that I seek so much honesty In my representation and expression—this, itself, is a high medrega which most people can’t relate to, and therefore the pictures cannot enter into their hearts. And, it seems, the more that I try to lower myself and see and reveal more truth and honesty, paradoxically, the more remote the pictures become from people’s understanding. I see this happening.
And me, I cannot remain on the same medrega, or to go lower, Heaven forbid—only to go higher. And I become very separate from the world, even after I’ve left the realm of pure Torah, and have some to meet and mingle with the world–through pictures; still, etc., as above.
So for some years now I’ve seen the only recourse, in light of this serious problem, is to uplift the generation, even if it is for my own benefit—so that I can continue to live—for if I am not able to go to a higher medrega there is no purpose in living at all.
I haven’t seen so much success in this, but, perhaps, truly there is success, only that it is not so visible—and testimony to this (that the generation has in fact been raised up, even though it is not visible) is the fact that I am still alive—for if I were unable to continue to ascend, I would pass away, as said above. Enough of this, for now.
It seems right to say that the essential theme of all my artwork is my happiness with the creative powers given to me by the Creator, blessed is He, and that He merited me to be a Jew, of His beloved nation, and that I should have a portion in His Holy Torah which enables me to be elevated above all base things and thus to use my creative powers for good alone. To be able to create visual constructs (called art) which flow from contemplation of the service of Hashem; the use of the hand in unison with the working of the mind and heart to discern and separate good and fit desires from bad and worthless matters; to be able to direct my thought and the ensuing work of my hands towards the pure, by the means of the Torah which I have been taught, and which can be drawn upon constantly by the will of the heart, and the creation of new forms, Chidushei Torah, simultaneously in the heart and in the art, this is a very deep level of happiness and satisfaction. The content is in the work to be seen.
It seems to me, in all honesty, that without a doubt, there never was a chidush like this in the world—that I take the most sublime and hidden aspects of the Torah: the Kaballah; and channel through my thought and heart and into my hands and express these Divine constructs in the most simple human expressions that a child of one or two or even younger expresses; in lines and shapes and movements on a page, etc. (and even though the artistic forms and structures become more sophisticated in these “artworks” of mine—these more sophisticated forms and arrangements, it seems, relate to more external and mundane aspects of my thought; but the most sublime thinking truly is expressed with nearly no sophistication. This fact (this last point) is understandable and can be explicated, be’ezras Hashem, bl”n, at some point).
And even though there are probably others who have done or are doing what I am doing, yet I doubt that anyone has done it to the extent that I have done this, for it seems that my whole life, of some fifty-five years till today, revolves around (the development of) this work.
I write these works not out of any ga’avah, rather out of “survival”, for this work is wrought up with very much, almost constant, mesiras nefesh.
My art can be analogized as follows: there are pages torn from an extremely holy sefer. These pages are scattered in a desert, partly buried, partly revealed under the shifting sands. The desert is hundreds of miles from civilization and no person every walks there. This fact I know is true. How the pieces of art of mine that do reach peoples eyes and houses, how this occurs, this I do not know.
In Midrash Talpiot it is stated that on the eve of redemption the Jewish People will flee to the desert for forty days. Perhaps this is relevant.
It seems to me that some of these pages are carried by either winds or birds into, or close to, civilized regions, and there they are gathered by those who search, in part, for Hashem, Yisobrach. Much of the text is transformed and blurred in the process and thus they appear as colorful artworks.
- video: “Reading the holy sefer ‘hashgachat pratit'”. The artist discusses in short his work.
- video: HaRav Yehoshua HaCohen Yisraeli, shlita, at “Shamyim”, Tel Aviv, disscuses Art according to Kaballah and Chassidus, in particular with connection to the art of David Baruch Wolk. At the end, the artist speaks in short. (Hebrew)
- video: HaRav Daniel HaCohen Stovsky, shlita gives a class on true Jewish Art at the”Bait HaBa’al Shem Tov”, Jerusalem. 2009. In p articular he disscusses the artwork of David Baruch Wolk which was exhited there. At the end, the artist answers questions frrom the tzibur. (Hebrew)
Dr. Nurit Sirkis Bank, מייסדת וראש חטיבת אמנות חזותית ומחקר אוצרת, חוקרת, מרצה אמנויות ברוח יהודית, former Curator of the Wolfson Museum of Jewish art, Hechal Shlomo, Jerusalem, former Associate Curator, Art and Judaica, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem writes the following:
“I was tremendously moved when viewing “B’Seter Elion” paintings by David Wolk. These paintings represent an extraordinary combination of the finest abstract art and the Jewish expression. The intricate use of layers of color which transfers deep emotional content, combined with carefully chosen quotations of our Sages, creates a multi-dimensional influence on the viewer.
A beautiful piece of art radiates tremendous energy. This energy is multiplied by use of Hebrew letters that our Sages teach us have the energy of creation itself embedded within them. Just being in the presence of these works creates a very deep and powerful experience. When I first viewed these works, the deep emotions stirred within me were expressed through true tears of joy and excitement that I haven’t experienced for many years.
I am sure that whoever will merit to bring these beautiful pieces into his home will enjoy these multi-level energies together with great value.”
(at a later date she writes the following:)
“I have been following, for many years now, the creative development of artist David B. Wolk. Wolk, who pursued his artistic training at the finest contemporary art schools in New York, combines artistic skill with innovative conceptual choices. While his artworks are founded on formal abstraction, it is the text that stands at their core. Thus is a new artistic genre created – one which may be described as Conceptual Abstraction. The texts selected by the artist are drawn from the classical Jewish sources, spanning ancient Talmudic texts through seventeenth-century Kabbalistic citations, to contemporary Jewish poetry, and even passages from the writings of recent sages. Particularly moving is his work, “The Main Request of the Wife”, based on a letter composed by one of the past century’s greatest rabbis.
The textual selection is an integral part of the artwork, inspiring the choice of palette and the formal composition. Wolk’s works draw the viewer into active observation and participation in the creative process. One first engages in the decipherment of the written text, which immediately evokes emotions, sensations, and a wide range of thoughts and associations. The viewer is then expected to partake in the interpretative process – challenged to find the connection between the work’s verbal content and its formal structure, seeking its relevance to his own life. The enthralled viewer examines Wolk’s works over and over again, seeing them anew each time; an additional layer of meaning is uncovered with each observation, resonating in the viewer’s consciousness and affecting him emotionally for a long time afterwards. The cognitive process instigated by Wolk’s work ensures that he is no longer the same person he was before encountering it. Wolk’s work contains immense potential for bridging the different sectors that constitute Israeli society and initiating dialogue between them – due to the integration of contemporary, post-modernist artistic tenets, on the one hand, and their rich Jewish content, based on ancient mystical sources, on the other. I strongly recommend that the artist David B. Wolk receive every assistance and opportunity to further his artistic development.”
Roberta Carasso, Ph.D., Elected Member of the International Art Critics Association, Art Curator and Writer writes:
“Artist David B. Wolk is daring in his approach. He seeks to find the hidden intersection between contemporary abstraction and eternal Jewish truths. In order to bridge the separation between the two, his art goes as far as possible, even to the very edge where the contemporary and the eternal meet as one. Wolk weaves disparate parts into a magnificent whole by creating colorful compositions having abstract visual structures. Each canvas contains the iconography of timeless words of ancient texts, whose origins come from G-d Himself. Holy Hebrew letters and shapes of varying sizes, colors, and lines sing and dance before our eyes to rhythms of modern calligraphy and ancient scripture. Thus, in his rich body of oil on canvas paintings, David B. Wolk transcends the separation between secular and religious art. Each painting – made by the hand of a 21st century modern artist who is also a Jewish scribe – shows the holy oneness that can be achieved when an artists probes the depths of the human soul and imbues his art with both timeless aesthetic principals and eternal spiritual truths.”
,יהושע הכהן ישראלי
מחבר ספר מכון שבתך. מתוך המלצחה הנכתב עבור ספר אמונה טמונה
באתי בזה בשבח המגיע למעשי ידי אמן וחושב הלא הם ציוריו העמוקים המלאים בהתרחבות ובהשתפכות הנפש של ידידי כנפשי, אשר יראתו קודמת לחכמתו, הלא הוא הרב דוד ברוך וולק שליט”א אשר עוסק במלאכה זו מלאכת קודש מתוך תפילה, תקווה ויראת ה’ טהורה, לזכות להביע את עומק פנימיות משמעות האותיות של דברי חז”ל בדרך הכתיבה והציור, וכפי שכתב רבי נחמן מברסלב ז”ל שהלשון והכתב הינם ביטוי לעומק הנפש[1
ואעידה עדות ה’ נאמנה על ידידי הנ”ל אשר זכיתי להכירו בהיותו עושה מלאכתו לשם שמים מפנימיות ליבו, בהיותו משים נפשו בכפו, ומתוך כך הוא מצייר את האותיות והציורים הממחישים בעומק וברוחב מיוחד את פסוקי התנ”ך ואמרות חכמינו ז”ל, וניכרים הדברים, בהיות ציוריו גורמים להתפעלות לעין כל רואיהם, ובפרט למי שנפשו פנימית יחוש בהם את העומק האין סופי חדר לפנים מחדר, וסתיו לפנים מסתיו, אשר טמון בלשון הפסוקים ובמאמרים של רבותינו ז”ל אשר מפיהם אנו חיים, וכל דבריהם הינם בבחינת ‘ישקני מנשיקות פיהו כי טובים דודיך מיין’ (שיה”ש) וכמו שדרשו ע”ז חז”ל ‘ערבים עלי דברי דודיך יותר מיינה של תורה’ (ע”ז לד.
אשר על כן אין לי אלא לברכו שיתן ה’ שיעלה ויציץ כגן רטוב ויפוצו מעינותיו חוצה ויתגלה כבוד מלכות שמים על ידו, בהחדרת ה’אמונה הטמונה’ בחיבור לדברי הפסוקים ולדברי רבותינו ז”ל, ועי”ז יפתחו הלבבות לאבינו שבשמים באהבת ישראל, אמן כן יהי רצון.
ליקוטי מוהר”ן קעג’
על ידי הכתב יכול הצדיק האמת להכיר הנפש ופנימיות הנפש של הכותב, והאמונה ושרש האמונה שלו, כי יש בחינת שרש האמונה, כי האמונה בעצמה יש לה חיות ושורש, דהינו שיש עולם אמונה שמשם נלקח האמונה, ועולם האמונה יש לו גם – כן אמונה בהשם יתברך, וזה בחינת שרש האמונה שהיא בחינת פנימיות האמונה, והיא בחינת פנימיות הנפש, כי הנפש והאמונה הם בחינה אחת כמו שכתוב (ישעיה כ”ו): “נפשי אויתיך בלילה”, וכתיב (תהלים צ”ב): “ואמונתך בלילות”, ועל – ידי הכתב אפשר להכיר הנפש ופנימיות הנפש שהיא בחינת פנימיות האמונה כנ”ל, בבחינת “אנכי” שאמרו חכמינו, זכרונם לברכה (שבת קה): ‘אנא נפשי כתבית יהבית’ הינו שהכותב נותן נפשו בתוך הכתב וגם פנימיות נפשו, כי איתא בזהר הקדוש ‘אנ”י נוטריקון א’נא נ’פשי י’הבית דא שכינתא חיצוניות אנכי דא שכינתא פנימיות’ נמצא שהכ”ף מרמז על בחינת שכינתא פנימיות (א). וכן איתא ב”עץ – חיים” לענין התלבשות העולמות שהכתר היא פנימיות הנפש, והכ”ף היא בחינת כתר כמובא לעיל (ב). כי השכינה היא בחינת נפש כידוע, נמצא שעל – ידי הכתב שהוא בחינת כ’ נתגלה ונראה בחינת פנימיות הנפש פנימיות האמונה כנ”ל:
Stacy Kalla, art expert, writes:
“David Wolk’s artwork is a reflection of his world view, an emotionally rich world devoted to Torah and Mitzvot, a world that is HaKadosh Baruch Hu. He successfully collaborates the abstract with the concrete. In fact, the definition of abstract is art which does not depict a person, place or thing in the natural world. Yet, the overlap of Divrei Torah, a tangible cornerstone of our connection to Hashem within the natural world, is in direct contrast to the value and hue of its abstract background. When I look at Mr. Wolk’s artwork, I see an emotionally charged reality; truth emerging from the chaos. A reality that expresses the culture of our time.”
Sarah Lehat artist, curator and writer, founder of Individual/Collective writes:
“To stand in front of Wolk’s work is to meditate on G-d’s constant renewal of creation. In the choreography of David B Wolk’s paintings, letters mimic phonetic symbols, pictograms, icons, persistently acquiring new roles and expanding their continual redefinition. He has transformed the painterly medium to pulsate along infinite channels of legibility, simultaneously sculpting representations of re-Genesis, empowering us with new vision, superimposing lenses to reveal previously invisible dimensions of our reality.”
the author of the article: A New Art Form: Kabbalistic Israeli artist David Baruch Wolk, writes:
Every once in a while there is an artist born whose work blazes a path beyond the ordinary, beyond the expected, to a new frontier that promises to take us beyond our expectations to our aspirations. David Baruch Wolk is such an artist.
Yehudis Barmatz-Harris; Fine Artist, Art Therapist, Jewish Arts Writer-Researcher, Art Teacher:
“David Baruch Wolk is a painter who tackles the question of purpose and meaning in a continuous process of visual form. Having studied painting in the United States, he is greatly affected by the more personal journey painting can provide, influenced by the abstract expressionism and deconstructionist search for emotionally meaningful form. However, having later become close to Torah Study, devoting many years to Hebrew Text and the formation of words as a Torah Scribe, his paintings became a way to integrate the powerful visual impact of art with the spiritually hidden meanings of Hebrew text. Unlike other Jewish Artists who incorporate text into their work, David breaks down the words into pure form, trying to relate to what is not revealed to the eye as much as to what is obvious to the mind. This results in images which move the soul, integrating an inner process of word and image, of known and unknown, of letting go of understanding in order to connect to a more devotional existence that lies inside every man. Hebrew texts, to David, are the DNA of creation. His paintings display this DNA before the naked eye as if inviting others into devoted evolutions of an internal passage connecting with G-d. I highly recommend accepting the artist’s generous invitation into this journey. Enjoy studying images of definite words as they intertwine with uncharted forms.”
(at another time she wrote:)
“David is an artist whose constant self reflection reveals itself through his art work. His art is personally effecting, spiritually meaningful, and takes a firm place in Art History and the Israeli contemporary religious art.”
from HaRav Yehoshuah HaCohen Yisraeli, auther of Sefer Macon L’shivt’chah:
selected comments received on the artwork:
I have just bought one of your wonderful paintings on “American fine art” , (just a print), this is just a note to tell you how much I appreciate your art, and to know if one day In Israel I can see the original ones in your studio.Your paintings really and deeply touch me.–Grazie from Rome.
I was watching his artworks and wrote this: Extremely deep and abstract expression of the soul elevated, supported by the creation of art, letters that are numbers, and colors that are codes, demonstrating the loftiest heights of human thought when is guided by the divine power, up to the most intricate design of the universe that was given to us as a gift, as a curiosity undeserved, by the Great Architect of the universal creation who said; ” I will wait for You until your gray hair”. (quoted from the Torah)–Eli Shaúl Ben Abvraham.
I must tell you that your artistic work is amazing – if you were to exhibit your paintings anywhere near New York, I would like to know about it – if you have a catalog, I would like to purchase it -may peace and good fortune pursue you all the days of your life – B”E”H”--Salamon Davis, New York, USA
Dear Mr. Wolk:
- It was a pleasure to meet you, to talk.
- I am grateful for your art work, which clearly goes beyond being merely beautiful to look at, but evokes the sparks of Torah you incorporated within each piece. My home, my office will be enriched by your work, as will all who look at it.
- I read the English file you sent me. (The Hebrew goes beyond my skills and time availability, at this time.) I would say that you are writing about the essence of man, his place in this world, his relationship with Hashem. The interweaving of art history, the works of other artists, and art as a medium of Torah is minimally “very important”, if not breaking new ground or, better, revealing another of the shivim panim laTorah. I am not aware of anyone else engaged in this work and I encourage you to develop it. You bring a unique perspective, living in both worlds, and bringing them into harmony.–Dr. Michael Kaplowitz, New York, USA
Congratulation on your work. I’ve been looking for art representing our religion for so long, and I found your work.–Danielle Amsallem, Paris, France
Thank you for showing me your wonderful artwork. Very Jewish imagery without a doubt. I have seen your work in other places and have always been uplifted and impressed by it. It is a wonderful contribution to our Jewish culture and inspiration.–Devora Piha, “Art teacher with a special touch who brings out more than just skills in your children.” Author of “Art for Jewish Children”, Ramat Alef Bet Shemesh, Israel
I am fascinated by the depth of your work—Bryna La, artist, Baltimore Maryland, USA
I always like your complex interesting work.!!!……….–William Madog. Lawerenceville NJ, USA
I wanted to send you a quick note to let you know that my picture is framed and hanged in my new home.
It is difficult to describe what i feel every time i have the privilege to watch the picture, in general and in detail i can be translated to peace and i can feel a great satisfaction! Is simply beautiful! –-Lazaro Stern, Florida, USA
The energy and respect in your work are both contagious. Beautiful. —Rosy Hall, Melbourne, Austrailia
- Wonderful visually, wonderful ‘lesson’…vf
- I’m fascinated with your process to the fruiton of your thoughts, and with your innate artistic talent….
- Wonderfully complex and beautiful Torah Art
- Beautiful, deeply moving, exciting painting and so interesting Biblical description
- David, you have the most beautiful body of work, and a wonderful bio.
—Vivian Anderson, artist, Mosman NS-Australia
- Very detailed expression…..as U do.!!…………….great mind set and focus to do so.!!!……………..love this.!!……………..
- This is very inspiring to me David………………..cool stuff.!!………………………..
—Allen n Lehman, artist, Langhorne PA, USA
I will need to set aside a lot more time to do your post justice.
I have managed to get a look at most of it, albeit briefly.
I’m absolutely in awe!
I would love to see a copy of the book.
Would you be willing for me to bring over my students to have a look at your work and to give them some inspiration?
Wishing you much success. I am sure that whoever is fortunate to see the book will be uplifted and inspired.
*Dear Reb Wolk
I just want to take a few minutes “off” to tell you how much I have enjoyed seeing your recent postings of your work. I never saw abstract art as anything much beyond the decorative or as an art history kind of statement. I found it devoid of real meaning even if it was aesthetically intriguing. You are the first person whose works I’ve come to respect and appreciate.
—Caryn Yavin, artist, Israel
the following are selected comments from the “guest book” at the Hechal Shlomo exhibition, 2010-11, Jerusalem, Israel (some translated from Hebrew):
What a beautiful, moving exhibition! It is so inspiring to see that art can actually be used as a part of one’s worship. Thank you for sharing the work of this wonderful artist.–Merav Finn
This moving and exciting exhibit will hopefully be the beginning of a long and illustrious understanding of the true goals–Rafael Sait
Great work, unique and very strong–Kruger
To the talented artist, David Baruch Wolk beautiful, ‘maxime’, conquers the heart and the eye, and very Jewish! There is something in your creations that inspires great internal happiness, immediately when one looks at them! A pleasure to look at, and even more to consider them! Full of magic and sweetness .–Ayin, Yerushalyim
Yashar Koachachah on your painting full of Torah content and artistic power and which breathe the spirit of the times and yearnings for the world that is completely holy, the rectified world for which we are waiting with desire without end. Blessing and success–from Tuvia Katz
to the artist David Baruch Wolk!
This is the first exhibition that speaks to my soul
the holy letters penetrate the Neshama and waken up the Jewish nesfesh to the heights.
Yashar Koach, may you be elevated and succeed
Something completely different! Amazing and impressive.--SV Steinberg, Manchester
the pictures are simply astounding!
They touch the soul…
we would purchase every one if we had the means..
—Hadar, Raot, and Yechutiel
in honor to David Wolk
the spiritual world
intertwines with talent in color
elevates me to the higher worlds
—Shamai Keinan (Director General of Hechal Shlomo)
to Rav David Wolk
Yahar koachachah on the outstanding artistic creations, which open up the heart and the neshamah, and which attach the holiness to art
beautiful with nothing comparable to it
—Ayelet and Yisrael Visel
what a wonder that HaKadosh Baruch Hu gave such gifts into the hands of a person like this!
NURIT WAS RIGHT!
OUTRAGEOUS, DEEP, MOVING
ONLY SUCCESS AND
BROCHOA TO YOU AND
ALL THE GENERATIONS
THANK YOU FOR THE PRESENTATION!
David Baruch Wolk
Rechov Ohr Sameach 16/11, Beit Shemesh, Israel– 0548409173–firstname.lastname@example.org
- High School: Cranbrook School, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, USA.
graduated: Magna Cum Laude. 1974-1977
- Undergraduate College: Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts, USA.
graduated: Magna Cum Laude. 1977-1981
- Post Graduate: Caumsett School for Landscape Painting, Queens College, Caumsett, Long Island, New York, USA. Scholarship, Summer 1981
- Post Graduate: Boston University Museum School, Boston Massachusetts, USA. Winter 1982
- Post Graduate: New York Studio School, New York, New York, USA. 1982-1983
- Post Graduate: Yale University Summer Program, Norfolk, Connecticut, USA. Scholarship, Summer 1983
- Post Graduate: Oregon University Art School, Eugene, Oregon, USA. Winter 1983
- Diaspora Yeshiva, Jerusalem, Israel. 1987-88
- Yeshivat Dvar Yerushalayim, Jerusalem, Israel. 1989-91
- Kollel Harei Yehudah, Moshav Beis Meir, Israel. 1991-95
- Kollel Hama’ayan, Moshav Tifrach, Israel. 1995-96
- Kollel Sh’viti Hashem, Ofakim, Israel. 1996
- Kollel Mishan l’Talmid, Ofakim, Israel. 1996-2004
- Kollel Inon, Ofakim, Israel 2004-05
- Kollel Avrechim, Beit Shemesh, Israel 2005-today
Awards and Exhibitions:
- Amherst College Art Museum, exhibited and purchased for permanent collection. Senior Thesis Drawing. Awarded Wise Art Prize. 1981
- Wayne University Art Show, Detroit, Michigan. USA; exhibited painting. 1984
- Detroit Art Museum, Detroit, Michigan. USA; painting in “New Painters Exhibit”. 1985
- Towson University Art Show, Towson, Maryland. USA; exhibited painting. 1986
- Sheraton Plaza, Limudei HaShem Dinner, Jerusalem, Israel; one-man standing exhibition of paintings. 2008
- Amit, Annual Art Exhibition, Zora, Israel; exhibited paintings. 2008
- Fig Tree Courtyard Gallery, Safed, Israel, 4 paintings on display. 2008
- Bustan HaEla, Yad Tomech Dinner, Emek HaEla, Israel, exhibited paintings. 2008
- Crown Plaza Hotel, Jerusalem,Israel; one-man standing exhibition of paintings. 2008
- Bais HaBaal Shem Tov, Jerusalem, Israel; one-man standing exhibition of paintings. 2009
- Prima Palace Hotel, Jerusalem, Israel; one-man standing exhibition of paintings. 2009
- Hechal Shlomo , Jerusalem, Israel; one-man standing exhibition. 2010-11
- Old City Jewish Art Center, Philadelphia, USA. exhibited paintings in show: “A Fusion of Judaism and Art”. 2011
- Shamayim Shira, Tel aviv, Israel: exhibition of 7 paintings. December 2011-May 2012
- The Jerusalem Bienalle, Hechal Shlomo Museum, Jerusalem, Israel. Exhibited two paintings in the exhibit: My Soul Thirsts…Succot-Hanukah 5774 (October-December 2013)
- Hechal Shlomo (Wolfson) Museum, Jerusalem, Israel. Exhibited three oil paintings in the exhibit: “Inspired by the Other” September 2014. Paintings remained in permanent exhibit until November 2017.
- Tree of Life Gallery, Safed, Israel. 8 exhibiting oil paintings and over 150 gyclee prints on paper. From September 2014 to July 2016.
- The Creative Soul Gallery, 386 Kingston Ave. Brooklyn, NY. “Spiritual Defense” Group Art Show. September 8 – October 6, 2014. exhibited 5 oil paintings.
- The Creative Soul Gallery, 386 Kingston Ave. Brooklyn, NY. “Living Letters: A Solo Art Show by David Baruch Wolk. November 17-December 1, 2014.
- The 2nd Jerusalem Bienalle, Hechal Shlomo Museum, Jerusalem, Israel. Exhibited one painting in the exhibit: “The Art of Motherhood”. September 30-November 5, 2015.
- Artists Fair, Beit Shemesh Festival of Arts and Creativity. March 21, 22 2017. First Prize.
- “המבדיל בין קודש לחול“, exhibiting ten oil painting, December 2016-present, בגלריה Art&Wine ביפו העתיקה (רח’ הגימנסיה העברית 12
- תערוכת “בין קודש לחול”, בבית אות המוצר הירושלמי, Jerusalem, September 25, 2017; November 16-November 28, 2017. “להשקת מיזם אמנות ואמונה-המרכז לאמנויות ברוח יהודית”, One oil painting exhibited.
- The 3rd Jerusalem Bienalle, בית אחים חסיד, Jerusalem, Israel. Exhibited one giclee print on canvas, “The Ten Commandments.” October 10 until November 17, 2017.
Teaching, Lecures, Public Forums, etc.:
- Hechal Shlomo , Jerusalem, Israel; Gallery talk. August 2014.
- Hechal Shlomo (Wolfson) Museum, Jerusalem, Israel. Gallery talk at the exhibit: “Inspired by the Other” September 2014.
- Betzalel Art Academy, Givat Shaul, Yerushalyim, Israel. Lecture featuring artworks and discussion of personal and artistic development and issues of art and art-making in general, particularly in relation to Judaism. Given to class of art students. January 23, 2017.
- Next Step Israel Internships – A Joint Program of the New York Teen Initiative and NCSY. The New York Teen Initiative is funded by the UJA Federation of New York and The Jim Joseph Foundation and is facilitated by The Jewish Education Project. NCSY is the international youth movement of the Orthodox Union. Yerushalyim, Israel. Gave lecture tracing personal development as an artist in relation to religious development, discovery of inner self and connection to the Divine through art-making; coupled with workshop given to more than 30 students. This two-day workshop served as the summation of their five-week course in Israel; the students created works of art of their own, developing inner connection to the process and product of artwork with the Holy letters. August 10 and August 14, 2017.
- תערוכת “בין קודש לחול”, בבית אות המוצר הירושלמי, Jerusalem, November 16, 2017. Gallery talk.
- Tech Jerusalem Innovation Forum, Heichal Shlomo, Jerusalem, Israel. December 19, 2017, One of the speakers at a panel discussion.
Publications, Press, Representation:
- 1985 Detroit Free Press, Detroit, Michigan, USA. Reviewed as have produced “one of three outstanding paintings” in the show: “New Painters Exhibit.”
- 5769 (2009) HaMishpacha (Hebrew) ,שפת הסתר במחכול
- 5770 (2010) The Jewish Press, David B. Wolk: Painter of Eternal, Jewish Truths in Modern Abstractions, by Roberta Carasso.
- 5771 (2011) HaMevasser, בסתר עליון—תערוכה חדשה בהיכל שלמה
- 5771 (2011) HaMishpacha (English) “Art and Soul David Baruch Wolk: artist, scribe and Talmudic Scholar.”
- 5771 (2011) Kuntrass “David Baroukh Wolk, Un Peintre au Service du Divin.”
- 5772 (2012) painting :
יתגדל ויתקדש שמיה רבא בעלמא דהוא עתיד לאתחדתא ולאחיא מתיא ולאסקא לחיי עלמא ולמבני קרתא דירושלים ולשכלל היכליה בגוה ולמעקר פולחנא נוכראה מארעא ולאתבא פולחנא דשמיא לאתריה וימליך קודשא בריך הוא במלכותיה ויקריה בחייכון וביומיכון ובחיי דכל בית ישראל בעגלא ובזמן קריב ואמרו אמן
Published as cover for The Mystery of Kaddish, sefer by HaRav Dovber Pinson, Brooklyn, New York , USA.
- 2012 Baruch HaBa (online publication) “New Art Form: Kabbalistic Israeli Artist David Baruch Wolk”
- 5772 (2012) Mercaz HaInyanim, אות משמים
- 5773 (2013) painting :
יתגדל ויתקדש שמיה רבא בעלמא דהוא עתיד לאתחדתא ולאחיא מתיא ולאסקא לחיי עלמא ולמבני קרתא דירושלים ולשכלל היכליה בגוה ולמעקר פולחנא נוכראה מארעא ולאתבא פולחנא דשמיא לאתריה וימליך קודשא בריך הוא במלכותיה ויקריה בחייכון וביומיכון ובחיי דכל בית ישראל בעגלא ובזמן קריב ואמרו אמן
Published as cover for for sefer on Kaddish by HaRav Baruch Myers, Brooklyn, New York , USA.
- 5773 (2013) HaModia (English) “Painted Letters with a Life: a glimpse of the work of the artist David Wolk.”
- Creative Soul. Featured artist David Baruch Wolk. By Yitzchok Moully.
- February 2014. Jewish Art Now “Hebrew Lettering and Jewish Mystical Art: A look at David B. Wolk’s Scriptural Paintings” by Yehudis Barmatz-Harris.
- 5774 (2014) ספר אמונה טמונה, Sefer Embedded Faith, 49 paintings of the artist, David Baruch Wolk commissioned by HaRav Asher Eliah, with explanations.
5777(2017) Painting: ברוך פודה ומציל, ברוך שמו published as a cover for the musical score: יהיו לרצון , Yih’iu L’Ratzon, for SATB/SATB Acappella Double Chorus, by Composer Avi Sussman, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
- 5777(2017) Pencil Drawing: אם אסק שמים שם אתה ואציעה שאול הנך used as cover for CD of the same name, directed by HaRav Baruch Myers, Brooklyn, New York, USA.
- 5777 (2017), כל ישראל, מוסף שבת, כ”ד אלול, תשע”ז.
כתבה: אמן באמנותו, על ידי יעקב אמסלם.
Publications by the Artist:
- 5771 “Pamphlet: two letters of HaRav Yehushua HaCohen Yisraeli, shlita”
two letters written to the artist. The author describes his understanding of the novel approach of the artist in service of Hashem. He enters into discussions of various aspects of the essence of artistic expression according to Kaballah and Chassidut
(link on home website: https://davidbwolk.com/writings)
- Sefer: Torah and Art, (Hebrew and English)
a collection of many small essays that constitute personal reflections on the process of artistic creation from the point of view of truth: Torah. The essays are verbal accompaniments to my artistic endevours which reveal a new path of expression of true inner connection to the Divine through the creation of visual images.
(link on home website: https://davidbwolk.com/writings
- Sefer: Until ones Last Ounce of Strength;
Serving Hashem, Yisborach, in happiness and balance.
- Represented on several other websites