Nurit Sirkis Bank, 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.”
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.”
Unnamed, 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.”
Rebbetzin Chava Tuchazinsky; artist, Yerushalyim, Israel
The artworks of David Baruch Wolk:
The artist’s pencil drawings seem to depict fragments of words descending into this chaotic world. He infers a deep mystery in the Hebrew letters by breaking them up into almost indecipherable components.
Words are hard to make out visually, as an indication that understanding what is written requires great effort. The similarity in the layout of these drawings seems to me his efforts in finding a suitable medium of expressing his ideas… that will have maximum clarity for the viewer. His drawings and mastery over the capability of his pencil medium show great sensitivity, as does his use of color. The layout seems to indicate an expansiveness and limitless of the upper spheres, as opposed to the compact space below. This is emphasized by the incomplete outlining of the upper “forms” with almost no color, against the very strong, binding colors in the indeterminate mass below. The result is an impression of an infinite inflow from infinite space into a mass trying to find shape and fit all in influx into a very finite space. I find these drawings disturbingly amorphous – which actually accentuates the tension between contact between a spiritual and physical domain, very likely intended by the artist. The complete lack of spacial depth opposed to an almost flat coloured surface seems to indicate the difficulty of concretizing abstract ideas in a physical world.
His paintings show a mastery over his use of color. Here one sees a definite background and foreground, even though skillfully mingled. The composition is also loose and free, but a more definite geometry underlies the layout. Again, the intermingling of the color of the words and letters creates a tension between their form – necessarily physical – and their abstract meaning.
The work is definitely not instant pudding like advertising images! It but requires penetrating thought as well, to enable the viewer to realize the amount of thought the artist put into showing how little we understand of the complexity and range of Hashem’s creation. There is a careful balance between the chaos and confusion of a world without direction, intertwined with the effort to make sense of the evenly placed but unevenly colored words whose meaning is so hard to really grasp and internalize. Enjoyment is dependent on effort, as with learning the Torah which he so subtly depicts.
(at a later time, she wrote:)
Someone told me that you had never learned to paint, and asked me to say if your drawings were of artistic value or had any meaning. I have had no contact with art or artists for around 40 years, and relied on a handful of drawings sent me on email by a friend. It was, on one foot, a task which I should not have undertaken. I apologize for my very deficient and too speedy analysis, which came nowhere near to appreciating the overall complexity of the collection of work which I have now seen.
At last I have had the opportunity to concentrate more effort on your amazing collection of work. Whether, without adequate academic qualification, I had or have the right to say anything at all, is at your discretion to accept or reject…..I know something of the language of painting, through my own efforts to express my thoughts in paint. But I have nowhere near the awesome amount of skill in building such complex and exciting images, filled with such a range of colour to express such awesome concepts.
At least I did discern the hand of a master guided by his Master, but, just as a word out of context lacks something of its meaning, so one artwork in a very concentrated series of works lacks something of the meaning of the whole. Each has its own facet as an entity, but each also adds something to the previous and something to the next…
May you continue to feel and use the Hashgosha pratit that we all have, even though few seem to be aware of it, with great success.
(at a later date, she wrote:)
I am impressed not only with the compositions and colours arranged to draw the eye around the educational themes, but also with the skilful and unusual combination of illustrative representation and interwoven abstract forms and letters – and the alternation between formal lettering and personal handwriting, all of which link formal learning of the holy text with our personal and present situations, levels and aspirations. Most intriguing works.
(at a later date, she wrote:)
Your work increasingly amazes and inspires! How complex the underlying structure, and yet each work seems filled with energy and light and only the letters with their eternal message stand still amongst all the frenzied action involved in wrestling an angel, so cleverly depicted!….But where the “action” is contemplative study of Torah, there the composition is in slowly rising evenly balanced levels…..Yasher koach, and continue with Siata d’Shmaya and much brocha and hatzlacha!
(at a later date she wrote:)
….with your sense of humour tied to your inimitable ability to portray in your paintings the human struggle involved in loving, fearing and honouring Hashem and His children of all ages and every age…